Feeds

Over 100,000 stops-and-searches: zero terrorists

Home Office stop stats show police wasting own time

The essential guide to IT transformation

When it comes to wasting police time, the biggest offenders appear to be...the police. That, at least, appears to be the conclusion of the Home Office. Its official statistics, published today, show that while police stopped over 100,000 individuals last year to "prevent acts of terrorism", there was not a single arrest for a terror offence as a result of these stops.

This perhaps is the final nail in the coffin for the widely criticised section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which gives police forces powers to stop and search individuals – in so-called "designated areas" - to prevent acts of terrorism without the need for reasonable grounds of suspicion. According to today’s report: "In 2009/10, 101,248 stops-and-searches were made under this power.

The report continues: "[This] represents a 60 per cent decrease since 2008/9. Compared with the same quarter of 2008/9, the number of searches carried out in Jan-March 2010 fell by 77 per cent, down to 14,214."

One reason for the decline may be the fact that in July of this year – following a European Court ruling that finally established that the power granted under s44 was too wide and therefore unlawful – the Home Secretary herself required police forces to stop using it.

Previously, the use of s44 was the cause of a long list of high-profile embarrassments for police forces in their efforts to stamp out inconvenient photography. It was also identified by the Head of the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) Communications Advisory Group, Andy Trotter, as not being particularly helpful in fostering good relations with the public.

Writing on this issue in December 2009, Trotter said: "I would like to see a return to common-sense policing, where officers feel able to talk to the public and have a conversation with them, without the need to record every detail or draw on police powers."

By contrast, s43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which enables a police officer to stop and search someone where that person is reasonably suspected of being a terrorist was used in respect of 1,224 stops-and-searches carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service in 2009/10 under this power.

This represents a 24 per cent decrease since 2008/9 – even though ACPO reacted to the Home Secretary’s jettisoning of s44 by urging police forces to make greater use of s43.

What then of police time-wasting? We asked the two police forces most closely associated with use of s44 - the Met and City of London - whether they accepted this as evidence that officers had been wasting their own time. So far, no comment - not even from City, who historically have been far more gung ho in their use of s44 powers than other forces. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?