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European Court rejects UK govt's appeal over Stop & Search powers

European Court rejects UK govt's appeal over Stop & Search powers

Categories: Latest News

Friday July 02 2010

  The European Court of Human Rights has rejected Britain’s application to appeal its decision that stop and search powers enacted under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 breached human rights legislation. 

The Guardian writes:

‘In January 2010 the European Court held that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the broad police power to stop and search without suspicion) violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights (Gillan and Quinton v. UK 4158/05 [2010] ECHR 28 (12 January 2010)). The claimants received £500 each by way of compensation.

‘The European Court has now rejected the UK’s application to appeal to the court’s Grand Chamber, meaning that the decision is final. This leaves stop and search powers in further disarray. The Home Secretary has already announced an “urgent review” of the powers after the recent admission by the Home Office that thousands of individual searches had been conducted illegally.’

Significantly, the Daily Mail notes:

‘The Home Office now has no remaining grounds for appeal. But, despite the crushing Strasbourg defeat, officials say they will not stop the police from using the power for months or even a year or more.

‘In the meantime, tourists, photographers and other members of the public will continue to be subjected to the humiliating searches  –  of which 256,000 were carried out last year, without catching a single terrorist.’

The government has said that it awaits the outcome of a full review of all anti-terror legislation ushered in under Labour before it decides on how to proceed.

The continued use, and misuse, of stop and search will however only serve to erode civil liberties and alienate particular racial and religious communities to the overall detriment of social cohesion and security. As noted by the human rights group Liberty, ‘as few as 0.6 per cent of stop and searches in 2007/8 resulted in an arrest and that if you are black or asian [sic] you are between 5 and 7 times more likely to be stopped under section 44.’

The arbitrary and ill-defined nature of section 44 ought not to be left unchallenged. We urge your lobby your MP and ensure that the government complies with the European human rights regulation without delay.

Find your MP and their contact details: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Write to your MP: http://www.writetothem.com


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