Feeds

European court pulls plugs on terror stop and search

Another clumsy fail for the Home Office

The Power of One Infographic

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK police's use of stop and search powers granted under terrorism legislation is illegal.

The case was brought by two people who were stopped and searched under the Terrorism Act of 2000 while on their way to an arms fair.

The law grants police the power to search anyone regardless of suspicion. A senior police officer can grant the power for a defined area; this must then be confirmed by the secretary of state within 48 hours.

Since the law was passed in February 2001 there has been a rolling programme of applications and authorisations for the whole of the Metropolitan Police area all of the time.

The court objected on several grounds. It found the searches interfered with the right to a private life and that, unlike airline passengers, people had in no way consented to be searched. It found a lack of basic safeguards in use of the powers - no minister has ever objected or sought to change the terms of such an order.

The court was not impressed with the independent reviewer who has complained since May 2006 that the law is being over-used.

Finally the court objected to the lack of any controls on the individual police officers - they only have to say they had a hunch rather than show reasonable grounds for a search.

In summary the Court found the powers "were neither sufficiently circumscribed nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse".

The court also found from statistics that black and Asian people "were disproportionately affected by the powers".

Between 2004 and 2008 total searches recorded went up from 33,177 to 117,278.

Kevin Gillan, a 32-year old student and Pennie Quinton, a 38-year old reporter and photographer, were on their way to a demonstration at an arms fair being held in Docklands when they were stopped.

The two applicants share €33,850 in costs and expenses.

The verdict is another blow for the Home Office which has had its wrists slapped over the DNA database, prisoners' rights to privacy in recent months.

Policing and Security Minister David Hanson MP said: ”Stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is an important tool in a package of measures in the ongoing fight against terrorism.

”I am disappointed with the ECHR ruling in this case as we won all other challenges in the UK courts, including at the House of Lords. We are considering the judgment and will seek to appeal.” ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.