Section 44: In late December the House of Commons made a statement about Section 44, “The government proposes to replace section 44 stop and search powers with a more tightly defined power, allowing a senior police officer to make an authorisation for stop and search powers, where they have reason to suspect a terrorist attack will take place and searches are necessary to prevent it.” Despite European court’s ruling that Section 44 violated Article 8 (Right to respect ones “private and family life”) of the European Convention on Human Rights, it was abolished in July 2010.
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In 2000 section 44 was introduced to ‘safeguard the community against terrorism’. The abuse of that law saw hundreds of thousands detained, the publics confidence in the police was lost and not a single person was arrested for a terrorist offences. Yet now in 2011, The Home Office has brought back the controversial stop-and-search powers by issuing a remedial order, which went into effect on the 18 of March.
According to the Home Office, the new section – 47A – “removes the incompatibility of sections 44 to 46 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with the European Convention of Human Rights in the light of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of Gillan and Quinton, which became final in June 2010′.The new powers are now available to all senior police officers that request them, and will “cease to have effect if both Houses have not approved the order by resolution within 120 days of the remedial order being made. Section 47A now gives police officers the power to stop-and-search pedestrians in a specified area or place if they “reasonably suspects that an act of terrorism will take place; and considers that the authorisation is necessary to prevent such an act.” However, while under Section 44 a senior police officer had to request the stop-and-search powers from the Home Office, with Section 47A, that requirement has been lifted. In effect, a senior police officer will be able to issue the powers orally to its subordinates, and then “must inform the Secretary of State of it as soon as reasonably practicable,” the emergeny legislation reads. Failure to do so will result in the powers expiring after 48 hours. These extreme measures of Section 47A unfortunately brings back the stop & search powers, which could potentially affect photographers rights to take photographs in public spaces.
Heres a short clip showing some incidences on the street with police officers and how unsure this situation is, even in the hands of the law.