The Guardian reports on a “ruling today by the European court of human rights against the unlawful police use of counter-terrorism stop and search powers” under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000
The sheer scale of the stop and searches has made clear that these counter-terrorism powers under which police are supposed to be searching for “articles that could be used in connection with terrorism” have become another tactic in daily police encounters with the public, regardless of whether people are tourists taking photographs or peace protesters outside an arms fair.
Use of the powers has quadrupled since they were used to throw Walter Wolfgang out of the Labour party conference for heckling Jack Straw in 2005. Last year the Met tried to restrict the use of section 44 to certain areas, for example near parliament. But that move goes nowhere near complying with this judgment.
Lord Carlile, the official reviewer of terrorism laws, said today a change in the law was needed, including clarification that the searches had to be “necessary” rather than just “expedient”. He also thought chief constables would have to give much closer consideration to the granting of authorisation to use the powers.
Will that have an impact on the increasing number of stop-and-searches taking place here?