A Muslim student claims that UCL Security officers engaged in racial profiling when they subjected him to ‘Stop and Search’ tactics.
A Muslim UCL Medical student was stopped in the main quad by UCL Security staff on August 1st and was asked to show them the contents his bags. The student later posted about the incident on social media and accusations of racial profiling were quick to follow. UCLU Sustainability, Engagement, and Operations Officer, Zakariya Mohran, tweeted “It’s not just police, [UCL Security] racially profiling and targeting BME students in stop & searches. Embarrassing” and UCLU BME Students officer, Sayeeda Ali, tweeted “UCL security guards stopped and searched a visibly Muslim student on campus. He had a beard and a bag.”.
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, stated on social media that two UCL Security officers approached him in the main quad and repeatedly asked him to show them the contents of his Sainsbury’s ‘Bag for Life’. He claims that when he explained to the officers that the bag was full of overdue medical textbooks the officers did not find the answer satisfactory and continued to ask that they be shown the contents of the bag. The student claims that he was held for 3 minutes while UCL Security officers searched him and says that the incident left him feeling “embarrassed and powerless”.
When asked about the incident UCL Security stated that they had CCTV footage of the alleged ‘stop & search’ and that the incident involved one officer asking to see the contents of the student’s bag from 3 metres away, and that the exchange lasted no longer than 10 seconds, much shorter than the 3 minutes reported by the student. The incident occurred in front of another security officer but the second officer never interacted with the student. The officer who performed the search was new to UCL and when asked by her manager to give a justifiable reason for the search she could not produce one. Her contract with UCL was subsequently terminated.
UCL Security also stated that this was the first time an accusation of racial profiling had ever been reported to them and that they are currently reviewing their training procedures and reminding security staff that “…any reasons for stopping and questioning anybody on UCL premises is completely justifiable.”