Some random terrorism-related numbers

Feb 25, 2010 15:04 · 390 words · 2 minute read

[![Keep Calm and Carry On-Blue]( are some numbers relating to Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, courtesy of the Home Office.

There have been 200,444 stop-and-searches in England, Wales and Scotland in 2009.

As a result of those searches, 965 arrests were made.   That’s 0.5% of the searches made - or, if you want it another way, 1 arrest per 208 searches.

Arrests don’t necessarily lead to charges, though.  I can’t find any figures to show how many charges arose from those S.44-related arrests, but the Home Office figures do tell us that there were 24 charges relating to terrorism legislation overall.

So let’s be generous, and assume that every charge arose as a result of a S.44 stop.  In practice, this isn’t the case, so the numbers will only get worse - but what the hell, why should common sense intrude on this exercise?  It doesn’t feature anywhere else, after all.

24 terrorism-related charges is a mere 0.01% of searches.  Or 1 terrorism-related charge per 8,351 searches.

But wait - just because you’re charged, doesn’t mean you’ll be prosecuted.  The police lay charges, but the Crown Prosecution Service decide whether to prosecute them. Only 12 of those 24 people charged were actually tried, which is 0.006 of the original searches, or 1 prosecution per 16,703 S.44 searches.

And one of those prosecutions failed, so we’ve got 11 convictions - 0.006%, or 1** conviction per 18,222 searches**.

OK, now let’s play with some really made-up numbers.

Let’s assume that your average S.44 search takes 10 minutes.  I’ve never been stopped, but from what I’ve seen there’s a lot of paperwork involved so 10 minutes seems reasonable.   That’s 2,004,440 minutes, or 33,407 hours.

And I’ve never seen a search carried out by less than 2 police officers and 1 searchee, so we’re talking 100,221 man-hours in total - or 11.44 person-years if you prefer it like that.

Which works out at almost exactly one person-year of searches per conviction.   Assuming the two were related in the first place, of course - which they’re not.

I can’t put it any better than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration speech:

First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Don’t have nightmares.