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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  1. SuperTim

    Yeah....

    That will stop them!

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

  2. Richard 120

    It may not stop them

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  3. Martin Milan
    Happy

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

    Thanks - sincerely.

    You've done the nation a service here.

    1. Rob 30

      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.

      1. Paul_Murphy

        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

      2. Old Tom
        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...

      3. lpopman
        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)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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

      4. Smooth Newt

        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.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Wow...

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

  5. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Awesome

    Now just get the police to listen.

    One stupid law down, few more to go.

    1. Pinkerton
      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!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reasonal Suspicion

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

    1. John Lilburne

      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.

      1. peter 45
        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"

  7. KCM

    and may I just say...

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

  8. Peter Galbavy

    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.

  9. nichomach
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Because...

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

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      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.

    4. John Bailey
      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.

  10. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    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")

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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 !

    2. JohnG

      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.

  12. Valerion

    Blimey

    I'd forgotten what sensible government did.

  13. Titus Technophobe
    Thumb Up

    Theresa May

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

  14. dz-015
    Thumb Up

    Excellent

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

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Grease Monkey

      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.

    2. JohnG

      "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.

      1. http://www.theregister.co.uk
        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.

  16. Stephane Mabille
    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)....

  17. Old Tom
    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.

  18. Anomalous Cowturd
    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.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Wayne

      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.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. g e

      Or perhaps more usefully...

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

      My preferred version.

      1. http://www.theregister.co.uk
        Thumb Up

        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?

    3. Cameron Colley

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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"...

        1. chr0m4t1c
          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.

    4. Restricted Access

      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".

  20. Wayne
    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 :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      Ta muchly ...

      ... for the link, Wayne.

      Fuck the police.

    2. 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?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Hurrah!

    There is hope.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good riddance!

    I hope that this is one of many laws that will be turned back. The Labour government was a scary scary government who brought in thousands of new laws in the name of terrorism.

  23. Antony Shepherd
    FAIL

    Does this change anything?

    Surely all plod has to say is "I thought he was a terrorist, guv!" the next time they decide to stop someone for the heinous crime of photography.

    1. Richard 120

      They may say that

      But now they will have to answer the follow up question of...

      "Why did you think the person was a terrorist?"

      I somehow doubt that an answer of

      "because he was taking photos of the houses of parliament"

      would actually be considered reasonable grounds for suspicion, so plod would get a rap on the wrists and told not to do it again.

      That's an altogether better outcome than not actually having the question asked in the first place.

      Plus the more people who are aware of their rights the less likely people are going to hand over their cameras when plod demands they do so.

  24. James 47

    Meh

    Surely, refusing to be stopped and searched will be considered cause to being stopped and searched?

  25. bdsl
    Thumb Up

    Suspicion

    The plod can say "I thought he was a terrorist, guv!", but if the search comes to be relevant in a court case (as it could do if the photographer sues for assault & imprisonment, or if the photographer was charged with obstructing or assaulting the officer conducting the search) then he would be asked to explain why he thought he was a terrorist, and the court would make a decision as to whether or not to believe that the officer reasonably suspected as much.

    Note the 'reasonably'. It's not enough for the officer to suspect it based on his own made up logic, it has to be based on something the courts would consider reasonable.

    Of course, if evidence of a real crime was found during the search that wouldn't necessarily stop that evidence being used to convict the photographer.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dreaming

    The words "civil liberties" coming out of the mouth of a UK Home Secretary ...... am I dreaming?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    You can get it for free

    http://stuarthughes.com/newdawn/product_info.php?products_id=8'9

    Look: price zero pounds zero pence.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good start, but...

    ...about another thousand badly drafted and repressive laws left over from Labours little venture into Stalin-lite nannyism. And when they've mopped those up, the slightly too pious tories can start on the badly drafted, repressive crap they brought in on their last outing too.

    But the real problem is that the Police won't just stop because there is no basis for flexing their muscles; they'll just find another law to bend to pick on those whose forelocks are no tugged appropriately. PACE, Anti social behaviour; they still have an arsenal of crap to use if they have a mind.

    Until that mindset changes in the average copper, the police will still be the 'filth' to those of us alienated by the last few years of equating 'we don't like the look of that' with actual criminality. When it's more likely that they'll take my reporting a burglary at my property seriously rather than hassling me for doing my (perfectly legal) job when I take my cameras out, I might consider viewing them with a modicum of respect and extend my co-operation.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Government lawyers

    I'm amazed that such a bill got through in the first place considering it breached article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the House of Commons was, and still is, awash with lawyers in senior positions both as MPs and ministers, indeed one can see it as lawyers retirement home, and yet these legal professionals managed to get into statute a law that is quite clearly is illegal. (Anyone else here reminded of the legal advice provided to Blair's government on the 'legallity' of attacking Iraq?)

    The ConDems want us to suggest ideas for the saving public cash ... might I suggest sacking all government lawyers involved who quite clearly don't have a f'king clue about the law.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Truer than you think.

      There is an enduring dark area of law making, and one that is rarely debated in academia or anywhere else, around how exactly a law comes into being.

      It has to be asked: what are the legal advisors to the government actually doing? When almost everyone in the country can see that a Bill stretches the Constitution to, or past, its limits of elasticity, it is beyond belief that there are some qualified lawyers who think it is a good idea. These people should be found and, if they are barristers or solicitors, reported to their professional bodies for disciplinary action, since they have brought their professions into disrepute (I know - before anyone else says it, lawyers are professionally disreputable ...). In fact, I'd sack the whole governmental legal teams, including the drafters, because they clearly don't have the intelligence or the balls to stand up and say "Errrrrr... what are you doing" when some bizarre crap lands on their desks, and hire a whole new lot that have been pstchometrically tested to be as bolshie as possible. Since Parliament is (or has been shown to be capable) of fulfilling its responsibility to properly scrutinise legislation, let's at least have pre-scrutinised legislation.

      Okay - rant ended.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent.

    Now all they need to do is get rid of SOCPA and we'll be back to being somewhere near a civilised society again.

    When we stop funding arms manufacture and sale maybe we could even call ourselves human.

  31. JaitcH
    Grenade

    They can still harass snappers on tourist buses

    Unfortunately the trustworthy Dixon of Dock Green perception of police was trashed when Blair and Brown decided they had a better idea of law and order.

    It's my experience in rhe U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. that when it comes to justifying their actions most become liars that would make Pinocchio's nose look like a dimple. The whole bunch should be book authors.

    I was visiting London when one of those Wanna-be -a-plod-characters (community something) approached me and said, in some form of English, I was breaking the law taking pictures. I responded, in Chinese, which was met with the response of 'bloody foreigner' as he wandered off. Obviously this frustrated ersatz version of authority was your typical little nothing, sporting some badge of authority.

    These encounters do nothing for tourism.

    At least foot bound snappers are protected but the Plods still have those topless tourist buses to harass. Likely they will have insufficient guts to take on a bus load of people.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    everyone gets what you deserve

    Most photographers weren't stopped under section 44, they were stopped on suspicion of collecting information of use to terrorists - which remains unchanged.

    What has changed is the ability of police to carry out random stops whose sole effectiveness is exactly because they ARE random. Makes the movement of vehicle borne IEDs round places like Northern Ireland much easier. Nice one.

    But don't mind me, carry on removing the ability of the police to protect you and then you can whine about how the police are incompetent.

    /golfclap

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      "What has changed is the ability of police to carry out random stops whose sole effectiveness is exactly because they ARE random."

      Would these be the random checks that have so far failed to catch any terrorists?

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Troll

      Sir

      Perhaps if the filth stopped abusing their powers we wouldn't have to take their toys away.

      Twat. I'd much rather the police were slightly less able to protect me from the boogeyman if it means I'm a little bit safer from them.

      I don't blame you for posting anonymously either.

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Troll

      Icon

      ...says it all.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    I dub thee

    You mealy mouthed liberals who think that every single one of your "rights" are absolute no matter the cost, I dub thee LIBITARDS

    And you'll get exactly the sort of society you deserve, and drown in the filth of it.

  34. nsld
    Paris Hilton

    shame

    She hasnt acted as quickly over the illegal retention of DNA.

    Cue more plod gettting the arsehole when clued up MOP's start pointing out the errors of there limited ways.

    Paris, brighter than your average plod

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Welcome

    common sense

    surely it's a rum state of affairs when the simple application of common sense is the most positive and exciting thing the government has done in decades?

    Anyway, I for one welcome our new sensible overloads.

    I mean come on, a law designed to stop terrorists that has stopped thousands of innocents and precisely 0 terrorists? And I bet my bottom dollar labour are still saying "if it saves just one life [blah blah blah]!" bullshit! If that one life can me mine, I personally would die to save my brothers and sisters from this fascist bullshit. That almost sounds like something Christ would do, you know that guy you worship? Nevermind.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      WTF?

      Sir

      wtf are you ranting about?

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I am in hope...

      ... that the reason nothing has been announced regarding the DNA database yet is that they are working out how such a thing can be done. My understanding from some people in the know is that there is no easy way to remove anyone from the database, because it is still essentially the same "experimental" one that was set up with insufficient oversight back in the late 1980s/early 90s. No-one actually considered removing things, allegedly because they thought the whole thing would be destroyed at the end of the research period. Essentially, because of the way it has just continued from a research project, there is no guarantee that an individual will actually be removed in a way that would satisfy both the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts, especially for older samples.

      No matter how good this lot seem to be at the moment, I really don't see them saying "We're scrapping the whole thing and starting again", do you.

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Troll

      See icon

      That is all.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Meh, they are politicians....

    In 6 months the commentards here will be whingeing and moaning as usual...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      I hope not

      ... but, because they are politicians, I suspect you are right - they will revert to type. However, are you saying that we shouldn't herald them when they do something right because it will all go wrong eventually ... what a depessing world view you have.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    This was a Supposed Policemans response ...

    #

    *

    #

    on July 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Reply DBRG

    The words: “Holy fuck” are still leaving my lips:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/10548112.stm

    *

    on July 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm MPS Probie

    Trying to work out if that’s just sloppy reporting.

    Looks like it’s only section 44, as that was all the ruling covered.

    Still a bit pants – but Sec 43 gives the PSNI pretty good grounds to search almost everyone, I should think!

    That last line is pretty telling. (Taken from the mentioned website earlier.)

  38. Philip Hands
    Big Brother

    Alan Johnson -- poor loser

    Sad how he's trying to spread FUD about this. It seems awfully undignified for him to be trying to defend the fact that even after they slapped the Police's wrists over routine abuse of this power, they still managed to use it on 148,798 "exceptional" occasions last year.

    All those searches resulted in exactly zero terrorists being caught, and yet Mr Johnson says that the police need to be able to abuse the innocent in this way, because otherwise we'll all die in a huge scary explosion.

    What a fuckwit.

    As someone who walked within a yard of the Harrods bomb about 5 mins before it went off, I was pretty relaxed about my odds then, and didn't let it change my behavior even slightly. People I know who were actually involved in the 7/7 thing seem equally stoical, so why do the Labour party insist on trying to scare people when most of these Terr-idiots think that all you need for a bomb is a bucket of petrol and some fireworks. It's pathetic.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC

    "And you'll get exactly the sort of society you deserve, and drown in the filth of it."

    Excellent. Bring the filth. If it makes you froth at the mouth more uncontrollably than you are now it'll be worth it.

  40. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I heard the most awesome interview yesterday

    Alan Johnson, the cheeky-chappie Home Secretary who was less unpleasant than the previous New Labour ones, was on t'Radio last night.

    On this power he was of course saying that the stupid Conservatives were getting rid of a perfectly fine law, only used in limited circumstances, protection of the people, blah, blah, blah.

    So the interviewer asked if the figure was true that the Section 44 powers were used over 150,000* times last year. Oh yes says Johnson and that was a great reduction on its use in previous years! And it's a great power, and it's only used in limited cases! Talk about ability to believe two contradictory things simultaneously... 150,000!

    I guess the police prefer it to the old stop and search powers they've got because a) those require reasonable suspicion, and b) you have to fill out a form and give it to the person you've searched.

    Finally he also said how vital the power was in Northern Ireland and then went on to say that this was an unprecedented massively increased threat since September 11 - true, but how come you're using (a much reduced threat) in Northern Ireland as a main justification then?

    He managed to contradict himself in subsequent sentences 3 times in a 2 minute interview, it was quite impressive, in a way.

    *We need some kind of capital NUMBERS (big and shouty like capital letters) so I can have a proper internets based rant at astonishing numbers like this - or anything related to defence or gov't IT procurement.

  41. David 105
    Big Brother

    @Ac

    Since you're using the word "Liberal" as an insult, I'm going to assume you're an American. I'm also going to assume you're familiar with the words of one of your most respected Founding Fathers who said "those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" (or words to that effect)

    I personally would quite like to live in a society where the police are not allowed to harass members of the public for no good reason, as it might encourage them to actually go out and solve some actual crimes (y'know, ones with "victims"). I also don't want to live in a society where the overall rights of the state are considered more valuable than the rights of the citizens who make up that state. I think that's been tried a few times before, and never really worked out that well for the people living there

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @David 105

      "Founding Fathers who said "those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" (or words to that effect)"

      The quote is from that well known terrorist (if they'd lost)/freedom fighter Benjamin Franklin. It was on a *lot* of newgroup sigs post 9/11. A reminder that the idea that something *must* be done is usually the basis of *really* bad law.

      "I also don't want to live in a society where the overall rights of the state are considered more valuable than the rights of the citizens who make up that state."

      Technically the state has *no* rights. People presume a state is like a corporation, a legal person. It has been commented upon that Tony Blair *tried* to make the connection the state is *somehow* got rights like a person but this is *not* the case. AFAIK unlike a corporation there is no legal means for its existence to be ended for example.

      Small historical side point. A conference was held in "Wanasee" in WWII to essentially plan the logistics for the mass extermination ("relocation") of Jews. Virtually *all* the participants for that turned out to be lawyers.

      "I think that's been tried a few times before, and never really worked out that well for the people living there"

      It has.

      it didn't.

  42. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Stop

    Stop in the name of the law!

    "Police use of Section 44 to stop individuals will no longer be allowed, although it will still apply to vehicles."

    So the vehicle stops but the people in it don't. Sounds painful.

  43. Sam Therapy

    A step in the right direction

    Not that Dibble will take any notice.

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