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Police stop and search abuse spirals

15th April 2010

Civil Liberty correspondent

 
Photographers on receiving end of police stop and search abuse
Photographers on receiving end of police stop and search abuse
 
Police carried out 66% more stops and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in 2008/2009 than the year before, government figures show today.

Amateur Photographer magazine can reveal that police made 210,013 stops and searches under the controversial anti-terrorism legislation in 2008/2009.

The figures are contained in the Police, Powers and Procedures England and Wales 2008/09 statistical bulletin released by the Home Office this morning.

However, statistics released earlier this year indicated a 12% fall in counter-terrorism stops and searches in the 12 months to September 2009.

Many amateur and professional photographers have complained about the unfair use of Section 44, which gives a police officer the power to stop someone without reasonable suspicion that they are involved in terrorist activity.

The controversy came to a head on 23 January when around 2,000 photographers staged a protest in Trafalgar Square.

In a meeting with Amateur Photographer magazine in March, the government once again attempted to reassure photographers that they are not being 'targeted' by police officers under anti-terrorism stop and search powers.

Last month the government's terrorism watchdog Lord Carlile confirmed to Amateur Photographer that he has called for Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be abolished.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC said Section 44 is having a 'disproportionately bad effect on community relations'.

'Nothing fills my in-tray and in-box more than complaints on the use of Section 44,' he told the Policy Exchange think-tank.

He added: 'I suggest that there should be a political accommodation now between all parties for the repeal of Section 44 in its present form.'

In January, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Section 44 is illegal. The Home Office is appealing against the decision.

 

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