Thursday, May 7, 2009
Police have bowed to mounting opposition and are to significantly reduce their use of controversial terrorism powers that allow them to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion, the Guardian has learned.
Stop and search is one of the most draconian powers employed by police in the war on terror and a constable’s right to use it will be severely curtailed under plans unveiled today. In a document seen by the Guardian, senior officers admit that the hundreds of thousands of stops carried out under the power had damaged community relations and reversed “fundamental” principles of civil rights.
Critics say that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows stops without suspicion, has alienated British Muslims without producing little or no benefit.
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Usually an officer requires “reasonable suspicion” of wrongdoing to stop someone, but officers have been able to use the power across London since the July 7 terrorist attacks.
Under the new plans, Scotland Yard will effectively remove an officers’ power to stop people without reason, although they will keep the power for special circumstances when authorised by senior officers.
Lord Carlile, independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Guardian: “Section 44 is over-used, there is no question of it, and that is causing alienation to some communities.”
This article was posted: Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 10:12 am