back to article UK.gov scraps stop'n'search terror power

Police are to be stripped of the power to stop and search anyone for no reason, the Home Secretary has announced. Theresa May told the Commons she will immediately limit Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 so members of public can only be stopped if officers "reasonably suspect" they are terrorists. The threshold of suspicion …

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Yeah....

That will stop them!

or as I suspect, It wont stop them at all.

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It may not stop them

but at least they'll have to answer for their actions.

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WTF?

Re: It may not stop them

Since when have the police EVER had to answer for their actions? unless the act of having a quiet word with the offending office (before allowing them to carry on doing exactly as they did before) counts as "answering for their actions".

Apparently even "reading the riot act" to officers doesn't make any difference.

Dec 2009: www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/15/more_police_photography_advice/

June 2010: www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/29/police_photo_bother_romford/

And that's before you even get into accountability for the more serious incidents like the Jean Charles De Menezes case.

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Happy

Never thought I'd say this to a Tory Minister, but

Thanks - sincerely.

You've done the nation a service here.

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hmm, not really..

i glad this has happened, but i don't think you can really say thanks to the tories for it as they were forced into it, and even stated they would have appealed against it had they been able.

it's not like they did this for the good of the country, or even that they thought it was the right thing to do..

i don't want to picky about reasons at this point though.

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Umm no.

May said: "The Government cannot appeal this judgment although we would not have done so had we been able."

We would not have done so...

seems pretty clear to me.

ttfn

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Headmaster

Read the text man! Yes you, Rob 30

Rob 30 said " glad this has happened, but i don't think you can really say thanks to the tories for it as they were forced into it, and even stated they would have appealed against it had they been able."

As reported in the article - May said: "The Government cannot appeal this judgment although we would not have done so had we been able."

Pay attention Mr 30...

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Megaphone

titular announcement

I am not a great fan of the tories myself, having lived through maggie at her worst, but please RTFA.

"The Government cannot appeal this judgment although we would __not__ have done so had we been able." (emphasis mine)

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Anonymous Coward

I read it without the not as well

I think it's because of the use of the word 'although' when 'and' would have made more sense and saved 5 letters

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Yes you can thank the Tories

I am not normally a Tory supporter, but they have not dragged their feet for more than a year over this ruling, as they could have done. Compare and contrast the handling of the December 2008 ruling by the same court over the retention of DNA of innocent people, particularly by NuLabour.

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Wow...

...if this stuff keeps happening, I may have to un-give-up on the UK. Congrats!

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Awesome

Now just get the police to listen.

One stupid law down, few more to go.

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Big Brother

Yay for the HRA!

The great unwashed were given the opportunity to vote down more of these stupid laws - http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk - but many either took the piss or saw it as an opportunity to call for the abolition of the Human Rights Act.

For all the Littlejohnesque rants, this is why we need 'Uman Rights: they're not some bloody-minded obstruction put there to prevent you from shooting burglars in the back, they're there to protect the likes of you and me from being shaken down and harassed because someone in authority felt like it. ...Or you're black, have a beard or just want to take some photos in a public place.

So go Human Rights, go Liberty and go Shami Chakrabarti - I salute you!

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Anonymous Coward

Reasonal Suspicion

Would "not being willing to allow voluntary search" be "suspicious behaviour" and thus allow them to search anyway?

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No

They have to have reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place. They cannot then retrofit that suspicion to be dependent on your actions after they have stopped you.

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Unhappy

Would they?

Mr Plod "where do you live"

Me "Not telling you"

Mr Plod "Why not?"

Me "Legally I don't have to"

Mr Plod " In that case I am arresting you for behaving suspisiously"

Me "What was suspicious about my behaviour"

Mr Plod "Refusing to give me your name and address"

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KCM

and may I just say...

... about bleeding time. Madness I tell you...

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what about section 43 ?

I must go and re-read stuff, but I thought that section 43 was also a generally "bad" idea and also used by the police to apply pressure to those they consider undesirables. i.e. anyone who isn't them.

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Stop

Glad as I am to see the back of it...

...it's a little rich to start awarding the government props for doing what they were legally obliged to anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Except

Except that the previous administration were fighting tooth and nail to retain these powers because they were "necessary" and were "protecting the UK from terrorism". Even though they could not provide a single example of the use of section 44 powers resulting in the prevention of a terrorist incident.

It pains me to admit it but this government has done the right thing more in it's first few weeks than their predecessors* did in 13 years.

* If only that word could be literally applied to some of them.

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WTF?

Because...

...of course the previous Labour government hadn't tried to avoid doing so for - oh - ever since January?

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Stop

Sorry, Nichomach...

... I think "props" is exactly what they deserve, after a generation of government that completely ignored anything it was legally obliged to.

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WTF?

I too disagree.

The previous government not only brought in these laws, but stalled wriggled and then did nothing to repeal them when told they were illegal. Made every effort to challenge the ruling, even in UK courts. And announced anything from consultations, to sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting lalalala. Mostly because they wanted to be seen to be "tough on the boogyman of the hour".

This government has at the very least, killed the ID card system. Has repealed section 44, and is actually making solid rational steps to undo some of the damage from some of the dafter stuff.

Hopefully they carry on.

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Thank f**k for that

Thank you, coalition government, from somebody who was stopped and searched at a station - causing me to miss my train - for carrying two very dangerous-looking bottles of Dr Pepper.

(I know, I know, "what's the worst that could happen")

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Anonymous Coward

the worst ?

How about:

http://www.justice4jean.org/

Very worrying, and with the police campaigning vigorously to be routinely armed this is also worrying:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article567961.ece

Hopefully things have improved since 2005....oh, sorry....they have not !

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Shock news. UK Gov does what they are *legally* obliged to do by European Court

They might consider reviewing their behavior on the DNA retention of *innocent* people as well..

Thumbs up because stroking a politician sometimes works and they need to be given all the positive reinforcement they can.

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Legal obligations

The ruling was made under the previous government but they did not remove the measure and made it clear they would fight the court ruling, despite Gordon having signed the Lisbon Treaty which made the ECHR legally binding on all EU member states.

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Theresa May

Nice one. Not something I would normally say about the conservatives.

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Blimey

I'd forgotten what sensible government did.

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Excellent

Let's hope this is the starting point for a bit more sanity in this country.

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Re: more sanity

As I recall, the first couple of months back in 1997 were pretty cathartic as well. The incoming administration made several headline changes in the space of a few weeks. The country felt much better. Then it stopped. Then it went downhill.

Perhaps we need fixed term parliaments, with a fixed term of about 5 weeks. It does seem like if you leave them alone for much longer than that then they start to get funny ideas.

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Anonymous Coward

This wasn't done by choice

Given a chance this rule would still be in place, we only have the European Court to thank for this.

The British Governemnt has lost many cases like this and they appeal every one of them until all apeals fail, only then do they relent. They know full well that each illegal regulation will eventually come to an end but keep them in place until they are forced to remove them.

If I did this it would be the equivalent of me repeatedly committing a crime until I was jailed to physically stop me doing it again. this is how much contempt the government has for the people of this country. If it wasn't for the EU laws like this would never be changed.

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Lets be fair

The previous administration have done all they can to resist European rulings either by promising change and dragging their feet over implementing it or by actively fighting the ruling. Think DNA database, Phorm/BT and data protection laws if you need any convincing. I think it's fair to say that all the available evidence suggests that they would have acted similarly over this ruling.

New Labour were very pro-Europe when it suited them (ie when European legislation suited their needs) but they resisted any interfernce from Europe when it went contrary to the party line. Either we are part of Europe and abide by European law or we are not and we don't. Labour only wanted to be part of Europe when it futhered their own ends, that is quite distinct from where it would be advantageous to the UK population. In the case of the BT/Phorm debacle it was quite clear that Europe was ruling in favour of the people, our Labour lords and masters wanted to rule in favour of big business.

So lets at least be fair to the current administration for not trying to resist the ECHR.

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"This wasn't done by choice" Oh yes it was

From a speech given on 26 June 2009 by David Cameron, outlining the intentions of the next Conservative government:

"We will review the use of the Terrorism Act's Section 44, and the stop and search powers contained within it."

There was also good stuff about RIPA, the US/UK extradition treaty and the ID card scheme.

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Gates Horns

ECHR

Section 44: Mrs May appears to have "told" the police not to use the powers, which nevertheless remain on the statute book and continue to be used for random searches of vehicles and presumably the drivers (or have I misunderstood it?).

ID card scheme: A small part appears to be in the process of being removed while the main provisions surge forward into law.

RIPA: Nothing.

Unfair extradition treaty with US: Utter silence.

Immediate removal of inoccent persons' DNA from criminal database: Kicked into the long grass once again despite a unanimous verdict of all 17 judges (including the UK judge) against the government in its judgment 215 [GC] on 4th December 2008.

Sorry, but I reserve judgment on this government at this stage.

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Stop

Tell them

In view of the strong belief by PCSO around the country that "all your photographs are belong to us" even with repeated message from ACPO/Met that it's not the case. I predict another 5-10 years before your local CCTV on foot have a basic grasp of the change

And anyway, carrying a backpack is probably enough to seriously suspect that you are a terrorist (as is having a pants as proved recently....).

STOP because Stop&Search.... The only thing they'll found on me is a bust card with all my rights (and theirs)....

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Stop

Re: This wasn't done by choice

This British Governemnt is not the same one as the last British Governemnt.

Oh, and as stated in the article, the European Court of Human Rights is not an EU institution.

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Stop

They still cherry-pick the laws they like.

What about the EC Directive that says all new goods should come with a TWO year warranty. Try telling that to the manager of Currys when your whatever packs up after thirteen months.

They're all still bastards, whichever way you slice them.

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Big Brother

Load of old codswallop

The police already have to have reasonable suspicion that the person they're stopping and searching is a terrorist or involved in terrorist activity. They've never been allowed to just stop and search people for no good reason or hassle photographers taking photos of Trafalgar Square.

And yet they do.

So what effect is any of this going to have? They're effectively saying that, as of now, police officers who break the law are no longer allowed to break the law - And that's the law!

Big deal. I'll believe it when I stop seeing and hearing about it.

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The didn't need reasonable suspicion under S44

Wasn't that the whole reason that S44 was illegal? That they didn't need reasonable suspicion? They just needed to designate an area as sensitive, and could then search anyone in that area with no reason whatsoever.

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g e
Silver badge

Or perhaps more usefully...

When news of some coppers being sacked for still doing it hits the news.

My preferred version.

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I suggest you read the Home Office guidlines.

"The power conferred allows an officer to search for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism, whether or not there are grounds for suspecting the presence of such articles (sections 45(1) and (2))."

This was found under "Summary of section 44 provisions" on this page: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/home-office-circulars/circulars-2008/027-2008/

I tend to agree with your cynicism, but the law did state that no suspicion was required -- at least now there will have to be a recorded reason if you're stopped.

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This post has been deleted by its author

RE: Load of old codswallop

'The police already have to have reasonable suspicion that the person they're stopping and searching is a terrorist or involved in terrorist activity. They've never been allowed to just stop and search people for no good reason or hassle photographers taking photos of Trafalgar Square.'

That's Section 43 (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000011_en_5#pt5-pb1-l1g43)

Section 44 (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000011_en_5#pt5-pb2-l1g44) outlines that an area may be authorized for stop and search which Section 45 (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000011_en_5#pt5-pb2-l1g45) goes on to clarify that their power "may be exercised whether or not the constable has grounds for suspecting the presence of articles of that kind".

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Coat

Re: Still not the 9 O'Clock news

"at least now there will have to be a recorded reason if you're stopped"

Yes, "loitering with intent to use a pedestrian crossing", "smelling of foreign food", "possession of curly black hair and thick lips"...

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Police (mis)conduct

I thoroughly concur with g e.

When a minister states publically that any police officer who misuses the power entrusted to them will be dimissed with maximum publicity and their pension rights cancelled and the IPCC is radically reformed to be actually independent, I will believe it.

It will, of course, never happen, as the police know only too well. After all, who would do the government's dirty work if we had an honest police service accountable to the people?

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Coat

You forgot

"Wearing a loud shirt in a built-up area" and "Walking around with an offensive wife".

Mine's the one with the hedgehog sandwich in one pocket and the pink porcelain statuette of the rampant trout bearing the legend "Frae bonnie Scotland" in the other.

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Grenade

See what the cops think of this...

If you want to know how the police feel about abusing your rights, feel free to have a read of the comments to Inspector Gadget's newest blog entry at http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/the-unfolding-tragedy-in-northumbria/#comments

There are 2 main threads to the discussions - 1 where the police are justifying why they should be armed, and another where they're arguing that there really aren't any abuses of S44 searches of photogs going on, and even if there are, people shouldn't be so whiny.

These are the people we're allowing to police us :(

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Grenade

Ta muchly ...

... for the link, Wayne.

Fuck the police.

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Oz
WTF?

Attitude

Wow - the apparent arrogance and contempt shown by some uniformed posters there is breathtaking. I'm sure they are fed up of people tarring them all with the same brush, but even so - that's no excuse for the aggressive nature of the posts. It's hardly going to endear people to them further, or maybe they don't give shit any more?

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