NEW LABOUR'S plans to step up its draconian attacks on asylum seekers are even worrying the Metropolitan Police. The government is to unleash 'snatch squads' across London next month to round up asylum seekers whose claims have been refused. A pilot scheme in east London is already seeing people snatched from their homes in the middle of the night and bundled off to be forcibly deported. Refugee campaigners in the area have told Socialist Worker they are receiving reports of at least two people a day being snatched. They are then deported on a plane chartered by the government.
When the full scheme comes in the number of such arrests will leap to 100 or so, from around ten a day now. The move is part of the government's drive to meet its target of removing 30,000 asylum seekers a year. But the Metropolitan Police are terrified that the mass arrests could evoke mass public sympathy for asylum seekers and see major protests. A report by the Met's Commander Steve Roberts notes, 'Government policy and activity in relation to asylum seekers have generated political controversy and some public demonstrations.'
And it worries that if arrests are stepped up, 'Public protest at police stations at which significant numbers of asylum seekers are detained must be a possibility. Such street protest can become intense.'