The Judgement yesterday in the European Court of Human Rights held that the random stop and search powers introduced by sections 44-47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 breached UK Citizens human rights now throws the Labour Governments anti terror laws into disarray. There were three key planks to the ruling, firstly the fact that since 2001 the whole of the metropolitan area of London was a "designated area" for the purpose of random searches, this power has to be renewed every 28 days. Secondly a high number of UK citizens had been searched by police, the power requires no element of suspicion, so you could in theory be searched just because the police did not like what you were wearing, or for any other arbitrary reason. Between 2001 and 2004 over 205,000 searches were carried out, with just over 1% leading to any kind of charge. This meant for the remaining 99% innocent people were stopped for no reason. The third being that there was no requirement that the person stopped was under suspicion. It is the last that is the most serious, as there was therefore no requirement that there be any justification for conducting the search. This has led to climate change protestors being searched under anti terror laws.
Lord Carlile the independent Law Lord in charge of reviewing the Government's anti terror legislation said on Radio 4 "As and independent reviewer of terrorism legislation I have reported repeatedly that it should be used much less. I have said year on year that its use could be reduced by 50% without damaging national security, and I remain of that view." What is of concern is that Ministers have ignored Lord Carlile's year on year reports.
We have fought two world wars for hard won freedoms, one of which is to be able to go about our ordinary day to day business without being detained, whether it is temporary or for a longer period, where there is no suspicion that we are doing anything unlawful. What the police need are effective stop and search powers where there is a suspicion that someone is engaging in terrorism.