Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has a 0.035% success rate
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
London Police stop and search a member of the public every three minutes under anti-terrorism laws, new figures have revealed.
Potential terrorists clearly lurk around every corner as statistics released to the BBC show that the Metropolitan Police used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in the capital.
The figures represent a more than 140% increase on 2007 numbers.
Of all the stops last year, only 65 led to arrests for terror offences, a success rate of just 0.035%, the article notes.
Furthermore, when you take into account how many of those arrests have translated into convictions, according to the Home Office, you come up with a round figure of 0.0%.
“The new Metropolitan Police commissioner should look at London again from the viewpoint of section 44,” commented Lord Carlile, the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism laws.
“It catches no or almost no terrorism material, it has never caught a terrorist and therefore it should be used conservatively.”
The new figures follow on from recent revelations that the use of the ‘stop and search’ power has increased exponentially by over ten times in less than ten years.
In addition, Ministry of Justice statistics, published last summer, revealed that from 2006-2007 police used their anti-terror powers to stop (but not search) nearly two million members of the public and demand they account for their behavior or actions, a figure that translates to around 3.5% of the entire British population.
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Stop and search powers, which were initially conceived only to be used in emergency situations, have proved controversial since their introduction in section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The government has consistently backed the powers as an important tool in the fight against terrorism.
Since then, the powers, while not leading directly to the prevention of any terrorism, have been most notably used against: Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton for protesting outside Europe’s biggest arms fair in London; the 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang for heckling Jack Straw at the Labour Conference; Sally Cameron for walking on a cycle-path in Dundee; the 80-year-old John Catt for being caught on CCTV passing a demonstration in Brighton; the 11-year-old Isabelle Ellis-Cockcroft for accompanying her parents to an anti-nuclear protest; and a cricketer on his way to a match over his possession of a bat.
More recently, Scotland Yard admitted that its officers have been photographing children who are stopped and searched, even after they have been found to be innocent, and keeping the pictures on a database for “intelligence-gathering purposes”.
In the past we have reported on instances where police have admitted stop and search records are permanently retained.
The Home Office guide to stop and search states that “if they don’t find anything, your details will be recorded for monitoring purposes, and you’ll be allowed to go.”
The government has continued to push for greater stop and search powers for police.
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act bestows exceptional powers on the police to stop and search at random, once a particular geographical area has been designated by a chief officer as one that might be targeted by terrorists and authorised as such by the Home Secretary. The government has since extended this power to stop and search WITHOUT REASONABLE SUSPICION to include “troubled areas”.
As of February 17 2009, Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act also prohibits photographing police and permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
Essentially, under anti-terror laws, anyone caught photographing police could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
As we have recently reported, this section of the act is being used primarily to target journalists covering protests, who say they are being targeted by police surveillance officers more so than the actual protesters. The law has also been used against tourists snapping pictures of landmarks and members of the public documenting police misconduct.
A recent report by the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights confirmed that journalists and protesters were the primary targets of increased police misuse of anti-terror laws.
Anti-terror laws are intended for use on the general public, they always have been, and now we are seeing the rotten fruits of continued blind acceptance contaminate every section of society in this country.
Our government is paralytic with power. It continues unabated in its attempts to force vastly unpopular mass biometric ID databases down our throats, and has no qualms announcing the fact that it wants the authority to monitor all our phone calls, text messages and emails, all in the name of “fighting terrorism”.
Meanwhile, the primary concern of swathes of the voting public in this country remains whether or not Simon Cowell will still come on their television every Saturday night and demoralize a deluded housewife for their entertainment pleasure.
Britain has become a literal realisation of George Orwell’s Airstrip One. Of course, if you don’t like that or disagree with any of our government’s laws you will either be deported, or if you hold a different nationality, you may simply be banned from entering the country as well as publicly shamed.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a positive note to end on, however, I do believe that more and more people are waking up to the control grid that has been constructed around them in this country. The question is will enough people wake up quickly enough to put a stop to this onslaught on our liberties before they are completely wiped out?
This article was posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 8:24 am