back to article Home Office launches urgent review of illegal police stop'n'search

The government has launched an urgent internal review of police stop and search powers after acknowledging officers had used the powers illegally. Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said an internal review of stops under section 44 of the Terrorism Act had uncovered 40 cases where police forces had misapplied the powers …


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  1. Wommit
    Big Brother

    This has a number of issues

    1) The government has launched an urgent internal review of police stop and search powers after acknowledging officers had used the powers illegally.

    If the Officers had used the powers illegally why aren't they being prosecuted?

    2) A 2004 stop and search sweep by the Met netted 840 stops, but did not get the appropriate authorisation from a government minister, according to reports.

    So the Police service middle / upper management are going to be prosecuted then?

    3)Baroness Neville-Jones said the government was endeavouring to contact every one who had been illegally stopped and searched, so that it can apologise to them.

    Surely that should read -

    Baroness Neville-Jones said the government was endeavouring to contact every one who had been illegally stopped and searched, so that it can ask them to be witnesses for the prosecution.

    4) The review covered the period up to 2008. Procedures were tightened up at that point, following increasing complaints about stop and search. The government believes no errors have occurred since then.

    Yeah, riiiiigggghhhhtttt! </sarcasm>

    5) It doesn't appear to cover coppers' alleged tendency to cite the Act to stop photographers, er, photographing.

    They're going to be looking into that later, right. Right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The government won't be prosecuting plods, but the victims probably will.

    2. Matt Newton

      In all honesty probably not

      but that's what the review is looking at -where it's gone wrong, how and why. Jesus, give them a chance, they've only been in power a month, they've got a LOT of clearing up to do after Labour.

      No government will ever be be perfect but thank your lucky stars this one is actually investigating issues like this and destroying the NIR and ID cards. It's certainly a step in the right direction. How about instead of complaining, write to Theresa May and express your gratitude for what she's doing - encourage them!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      You have to investigate

      before you prosecute... I think your getting the cart before the horse. I see it as unlikly that they will prosecute, but your still wrong about the process.

      You can't talk about freedom and innocence and then demand that is removed from others. Its like the DM readers who say "Sharia law? Never! They should be hanged for such barbarism"

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Welcome news.

    May I suggest that the next step be a top to toe radical rethink to the way officers are trained so that they understand the laws in practice that they are supposed to be enforcing, rather than getting away with acting like the little hitlers that they want to be and simply interpreting the laws as they see of fit, or as they would like them to be.

    Granted, this would also need to encompass a complete restructuring of Police administration so that those out on the streets actually have the time to learn this fairly important canon of legislation, rather than learing how to fill in forms and push pencils.

  3. Mos Eisley Spaceport

    Allo allo allo

    Wot's all this then...?

  4. Fatman Silver badge

    Keeping the coppers in line

    What should come from this investigation is that the coppers who have conducted these illegal stops be punished.

    My idea is to demand that they report to the court with their batons. For each illegal stop made, the offending officer should receive one severe whack with HIS (or HER) baton across the fingers of each hand. A bit cruel, but, hey the coppers are not `above the law` now are they????

    maybe in the future they will not be so eager to violate civil liberties.

  5. I didn't do IT.

    Re: Witness for the Prosecution

    So, where is the plucky entrepaneur who will start selling T-Shirts with

    a) Back showing a list of rights of people stopped by police under Section 44, so that they police may review while you are 1) on the face down on the ground or 2) while they are handcuffing you.

    b) Front emblazoned: "Witness for Prosecution (for Illegal Use of Police Powers)"

    Perhaps a nice stall outside designated stoppage areas? Oh, right, those are where ever the police's whim (or strewn entrails, or perhaps what they thought they saw in the loo bowl that morning) decides the area should be that week/day/hour/minute... Just as long as there is no real crime happening in that area, for sure!

    1. MonkeyBot
      Big Brother

      Be careful

      If you're in an area designated under SOCPA, wearing that could be interpreted as an unlicensed protest.

  6. Rogerborg

    Oh, cheers for the £1200

    That'll be <a href="">false imprisonment</a> then?

  7. Anonymous Coward


    To prevent further embuggerance of the UK population by these laws it should be clearly stated that where a Police officer cites section 44 in an undesignated area they WILL be charged with breaking the law as individuals. Afterall, the European court has stated this law is illegal in its current form and execution.

    It is about time that the individual police officer loses their indemnity protection from these small mistakes in interpreting the law that way two things will happen

    1. Plod will do some home work, bone up and actually understand the legislation they are vomiting out on street corners during an ILLEGAL search.

    2. Beacause most of them are on 22k a year they won't bother, so will leave the average joe public alone for fear of being prosecuted themselves.

    In addition - woe betide any community officer that spouts section 44 at me when I am in the middle of the street holding a camera.... jumped up little tin pot dictators!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not Quite

      You seem to have misread the report. This isn't about individual plod, but about forces not adhering to the rules regarding search sweeps. So it is not about individual officers choosing to stop and search people under section 44, it is about forces instructing officers to do so. If PC Plod receives an order telling him that today they are operating a sweep under section 44 in a particular area it's not up to the officer concerned to check that the law is being applied correctly. It's up to his superiors to give him the correct orders.

      Take the met operation that led to 840 illegal stop and searches. The beat officers concerned shouldn't have needed to check that their senior officers had applied for and received the correct authorisation. It's the senior officers who planned and authorised the operation that need to be prosecuted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not the copper's job

        I thought that this had already been covered.

        "Honestly, I did order the gassing of thousands of people, but I was just doing my job. It's not my job to know if what I was doing was right"

      2. John G Imrie

        In which case

        A defence would be 'I was instructed by my superior officer'.

        humm ... why do I suddenly start thinking about Nuremberg .

        1. Paul 4
          Paris Hilton


          Missinterpritation of laws is not the same as Gassing millions. Noone knows and understands every law on the statute. If they did they sure as fuck wouldent be a police officer. What utter utter stupidity.

          Paris, because, well... Even she isen't that dumb to cause Godwin to be invoked.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Refer to Option 2

            I don't think I invoked GodWin.

            Option 2 cause they are on 22k a year they won't.

            ...calm down dear it is only an utter utter utter stupid blog

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Not to mention

    That the European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that these powers are illegal in and by them selves.

    To repeat, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that these powers are _illegal_. And yet, not only are they still being used, the goverment is still arguing their 'usefulness'.

    <sarcasm> Nice to see the goverment takes basic Human Rights very seriously indeed. </sarcasm>

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the police

    well-know they are breaking the law.

    But who is going to prosecute them ?

    11 shots into an innocent guy on a tube train only got them prosecuted under health and safety laws.

    Now they are campaigning for officers to be routinely armed.....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the matter of photographers...

    I thought that section 44 only covered operations authorised for a designated time (up to 28 days) and in a designated area. That being the case (and correct me if I'm wrong) this investigation should cover photographers being stopped.

    Perhaps it would help if all stop and searches under section 44 had to include the searchee (?) being shown the relevant authorisation for a search sweep. That authorisation should clearly show the area and the dates. That way it would be easy for us to know whether we are being searched illegally.

    Kind of reminds me of Yossarian:

    "Section 44 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing."

    "Didn't they show it to you?" Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. "Didn't you even make them read it?"

    "They don't have to show us Section 44," the old woman answered. "The law says they don't have to."

    "What law says they don't have to?"

    "Section 44."

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      He is - they aren't neccesarily

      What Inspector Gadget says is not always in keeping with what management says. In fact, I don't think he likes them.

      (No, I'm not police. I am NHS.)

  11. Anonymous John

    Legal title.

    But did they find any terrorists with these stops?

  12. Ad Fundum


    Well it's at least a step in the right direction - it's more than Labour were doing, so anything has to be an improvement on what it was before.

  13. ZenCoder

    Whats right about whats wrong with the US legal system.

    Our rights are protected in two ways ...

    1) If they violate our rights we get to file ridiculous lawsuits against the policy, city, government which gives them a actual incentive to stop violating those rights.

    2) If they break the law in obtaining evidence they know that that evidence could be tossed out of court. It bad that known criminals get set free, but it would be even worse to live in a country where the police are free to ignore the law.

    1. Pawel 1

      Yeah, but...

      I still prefer to live in a country where most policemen are well-mannered, and not stupid d**ks who shout at children with skateboards, tase 12 year olds or students whose question was too long. Your system, dear americans, is broken to an even higher extent.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    840 stops. No arrests

    No one.

    Nothing actually *worth* stopping *anyone* for.

    How long does a "Stop" take?

    How much overtime was charged?

    Can you say harassment?

    Would you mind if they actually *found* something worht arresting someone for?

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up


    "But did they find any terrorists with these stops?"

    Reads it again and laughs some more....

    1. Anonymous John

      Re Hahahahahaaa!!

      I certainly hadn't heard of any. I was just making the point that the stops were pointless as well as illegal.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Remember Nuremberg?

    ""So it is not about individual officers choosing to stop and search people under section 44, it is about forces instructing officers to do so.""

    "I was only following orders" stopped being a viable legal defense a very long time ago. Illegal is illegal is illegal no matter how you attempt to justify it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. cosmo the enlightened

        Actually you are wrong

        Ignorantia juris non excusat or Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Latin for "ignorance of the law does not excuse" or "ignorance of the law excuses no one") is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content.

        This is established precedent in the UK.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All in a day's work?

    "Baroness Neville-Jones said the government was endeavouring to contact every one who had been illegally stopped and searched, so that it can apologise to them."

    Doesn't she have something better to do? Like, oh, repeal this piece of junk legislation?

    And there I was, thinking the new bunch would actually repeal more than one law. Apparently not so, since only one was all it took to get them elected. Or even none at all, if you believe Andrew's Analysis. Someone poke them with something hot and pointy, to keep them going. Lazy bunch.

  18. Jean-Paul

    So what's the problem?

    I've been stopped twice only takes a minute or two and didn't hurt ;-) can we stop all this bureaucratic nonsense and just let them get on with it.

    Done nothing, carrying nothing, you've got nothing to fear.

    Please don't let their be stupid compensation payouts, we are broke as it is, and it is our tax payers money that has to be used for this.

    Such a daft situation.

    1. Lottie

      Done nothing, carrying nothing, you've got nothing to fear.

      Tell that to Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson!

      1. Jean-Paul

        I wouldn't run

        away when chased by police with guns ;-) Not good what happened, but that is not your normal stop and search...And when you then go on the run, well there will be concequences...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      This given me an idea - why not pay the compensation to people from the salaries of those who made those blunders? Should have a much better deterrent effect against people who are in power. Everyone wins.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "I've been stopped twice only takes a minute or two and didn't hurt ;-) can we stop all this bureaucratic nonsense and just let them get on with it."

      Perhaps you are from a country with a more "vigorous" approach to stopping and searching its citizens, especially those of a darker hue?

  19. ShaggyDoggy

    Time to start carrying a film camera

    ... with no film in it

    .... just a dry run to work out shots and angles, erm, I mean pictures and angles

    ... then when stopped let them go the whole hog, since you're not actually taking pics you're not doing anything contra to s44 are you, court will be a larf

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