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JCHR report on Stop and Search powers Remedial Order

JCHR report on Stop and Search powers Remedial Order

Categories: Latest News

Thursday June 16 2011

The joint select committee on human rights yesterday published a report, Terrorism Act 2000 (Remedial) Order 2011: Stop and Search without Reasonable Suspicion, looking into the legal and human rights implications of an exceptional power granted to police forces to conduct stop and search “without reasonable suspicion”.

The change to existing laws on stop on search without reasonable suspicion was prompted by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in January 2010 which ruled that the powers granted under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act violated the right to privacy and was open to discriminatory abuse.

Changes were introduced to the powers by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to tighten the rules on conducting stop and search without reasonable suspicion following the ruling in the form of interim guidance. The Remedial Order seeks to fill the operational gap between the interim guidance and statutory legislation currently making its way through Parliament.

The JCHR report criticizes the exceptional power granted to conduct stop and search without reasonable suspicion as “not go[ing] far enough and thus risks giving rise to further human rights breaches.”

Modifications to the Order recommended by the select committee include measures that:

  • require the officer authorising stop and search without reasonable suspicion to have a reasonable basis for his or her belief that the authorisation is needed, and to provide an explanation;
  • prevent the renewal of authorisations other than on the basis of new or additional information, or a fresh assessment of the original intelligence and that the threat remains immediate and credible;
  • require prior judicial authorisation for this power to stop and search to be available to the police; and
  • require authorisations to be publicly notified once they have expired, so far as is consistent with the protection of intelligence sources

Addressing the issue of discriminatory abuse of the power, the select committee recommends “the strengthening of the Code of Practice and bolstering the role of the independent reviewer in order to enhance political accountability for the police and Home Secretary’s exercise of the power.”

Read the JCHR report here.

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