Welcome for plans to scale down police stop and search

Commenting on the Home Secretary’s announcement that stop and search powers will be subject to stricter conditions, Tom Brake MP (Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs, Justice and Equality) said:

This is a very welcome announcement. Section 44 was an unreasonable power, applied in an indiscriminate way.

This change strengthens our civil liberties, building on a longstanding commitment from Liberal Democrats.

When the Labour benches attacked the coalition for what they described as an obsession with defending civil liberties, it just highlighted their dangerous obsession with eroding them.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty has also welcomed the Home Secretary’s decision:

Liberty welcomes the end of the infamous s.44 stop and search power that criminalised and alienated more people than it ever protected. We argued against it for ten years and spent the last seven challenging it all the way to the Court of Human Rights.

It is a blanket and secretive power that has been used against school kids, journalists, peace protesters and a disproportionate number of young black men. To our knowledge, it has never helped catch a single terrorist. This is a very important day for personal privacy, protest rights and race equality in Britain.

Aside from the issues mentioned above, one of the problems with stop and search is the huge gaps in the police’s knowledge about whether or not stop and search actually helps cut crime or catch criminals.

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2 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 9th Jul '10 - 12:29am

    Also it often seems like police don’t understand the current rules. A lot of officers on the street appear to be under the impression that section 44 is a blanket power to search anybody for anything without reason.

  • Andrew Wimble 9th Jul '10 - 1:00pm

    To me the idea that our security depended in any way on the power of the police to stop people more at less at random in the hope that they would get lucky and stop a terrorist sees farcical. By all means let them stop and search people where there is some ground to believe the target may be a terrorists, although even then it should be done on the basis that the person stopped may very well be innocent so should be treated as such, not as a criminal.

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