Tuesday, February 15, 2005

British newspaper pats self on back for making train travel less safe.

Police are trained to look for things that are out of place, as the inquiry into suspicious irregularities has proven one of the most effective policing tools. Think video-taping bridges, loitering in federal buildings or mass transit stations for example. Random checks of train passengers in Britain have consisted of immigration status checks or simply asking for ID. But because the Times of London concerns themselves more with constant comfort of law-breakers, they're patting themselves on the back for "uncovering" what has been an effective and necessary practice P9/11. In another case of "civil liberties" trumping common sense, there's a new protocol in town:
Random immigration checks on Tube passengers have been banned by Underground chiefs after they were exposed by the Evening Standard.

We revealed how dozens of police and immigration officers at a time swooped on stations and asked foreign-sounding commuters to justify their presence in Britain.

And after we uncovered the practice last summer, unhappy Tube chiefs have told the Home Office and police that their officers will no longer be allowed to carry out the raids.

The sides are still in talks but already the number of operations has been cut and the Immigration Service has agreed to curb the way its officers work.

Crucially, under the new rules only people suspected of being faredodgers, drug-dealers or other lawbreakers may be quizzed on their immigration status.

Passengers who follow the rules cannot be questioned.

A London Underground spokesman said: "We have established a protocol that no random checks should happen. As a result, the Immigration Service will only work with police as part of preplanned, intelligence-led operations.

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