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Stop-and-search would be fine if only it were applied equitably

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THERE are some words and phrases, are there not, over many years which lose their potency with over-use. Any value they once possessed in conveying something immediate and worthwhile in a succinct manner become obsolete.

Governments and other agencies which seek to avoid accountability or the judgment of future generations specialise in them. The word “outcomes” is one of them and so is “transformational”. In recent years “behaviour” has begun wretchedly to be deployed as a noun and in the plural. And is there another word that starkly conveys the deplorable character of its user more than “trope”?

I fear that “reactionary” is beginning to fall into this category too and I accept my own share of the blame for its demise. Left-wing commentators attach it lazily to any form of policy-making or political conduct that they deem to be typical of Conservatives and the instincts that they feel fuel this. It conveys the sense that action has been undertaken merely to appeal to popular sentiment and that not a great deal of thinking has been applied to its consequences.

This most often occurs in the sphere of crime and punishment and was best illustrated in the responses of the UK Government and the police in the aftermath of the IRA bombing campaign in mainland Britain during the 1970s. Thus, it seemed that simply being found in possession of an Irish accent formed sufficient grounds for arrest and questioning. It led to the appalling miscarriages of justice suffered by the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four.

We saw this too following the 9/11 attacks on New York when the US Department of Homeland........

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