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'Racist' stop-and-search powers to be challenged

A BLACK woman who claims she was unfairly stopped and searched will take on the police in a landmark legal battle over her treatment.

Ann Juliette Roberts, of Edmonton, north London, was granted permission to challenge the Metropolitan Police over the legality of her arrest.

The 37-year-old was initially targeted by officers in September 2010 because she did not have enough money on her Oyster card for her journey.

But the situation soon escalated after they insisted on searching her bag because she was holding it "suspiciously", the High Court was told.

It led to a struggle and other officers being called, said Mrs Roberts' lawyers.

UNFAIR

The special needs assistant was restrained face down on the floor and handcuffed.

Officers found bank cards with different identities, which she explained were in her name, her maiden name - having recently married - and her son's name.

She was arrested on suspicion of fraud and given a drugs test, which she was told showed she had a small amount of crack cocaine in her system.

She later received a caution for obstruction and tested negative for illicit substances.

Mrs Roberts claims she was the victim of an abuse of the powers which are used disproportionately against black people.

Statistics show that a black person is more than nine times more likely to be searched than a white person.

CHALLENGE

Judges ruled her case raised "important issues" and gave the go-ahead for a judicial review.

Mrs Roberts is asking the High Court to rule Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Section 60 allows officers to search anyone, without suspicion, for dangerous instruments or offensive weapons in a designated area for a 24-hour period.

A Met spokesman said: "We will consider the decision and prepare our evidence to defend the claim."

The case is expected to be heard by the end of 2011.

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