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Stopping the use of designated zones for police stop and search and other sections of the terrorism act

Comment 2nd July 2010

This part of the Terrorism Act section 44 states that zones can be designated security zones and anyone at all regardless of whether the police have a legitimate reason to suspect them or not can be stopped and searched.

This has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights but as I know not everyone is a fan of Brussels I would like to advance my own reasons why unlimited stop and search powers within a particular area should be repealed.

First there are numerous occasions where this law has been abused – for instance to stop photographers.  The argument that this is a misapplication of the law and thus the law is okay should not hold water because simply put most police officers cannot be expected to learn the nuances of every law they are expected to uphold and thus the inevitable outcome is that this law has been abused on a widespread basis.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3620110/The-police-must-end-their-abuse-of-anti-terror-legislation.html

And who can forget the infamous abuse where an old age pensioner was ejected from a Labour party conference for speaking up.  The Terrorism act was quoted (in error) as justification for detaining the old man but that does not stop the fact that the police there thought they had the right to detain him under the act.  This must have been a a separate section of the act that was quoted but the principle is still the same.

It is simply wrong and not something any civilisation which truly respects its population should have as a law.

Why does this matter?

Because we should accept that danger is a part of life and a life under laws like this becomes less valuable because we are less free. 

I think we should show some backbone like the soldiers in Afghanistan and show the terrorists we're not scared of walking in the street to the point we need to be able to stop and search everyone. 

We should accept we are all at war and that laws like this bring the terrorists closer to victory and also alienate naive and young sections of society which are then preyed upon by extremists and converted to become the terrorists of tomorrow. 

At best these stop and search powers make us only slightly more safe at the expense of freedom and at worst they actually makes us less safe.

You are never going to stop every terrorist attack because it is impossible.  The damage a single motivated individual who does not care for consequences is immense and can never be stopped by curbing the freedoms of the whole population or, in this case, the freedoms of the civilians in a particular area.  Thankfully – in part due to the good job our security services do and in part to the undoubted fact that the threat is nowhere near as severe as those who push these laws both believe and would have you believe, we are not being attacked on a daily basis. 

Though I have mentioned the good job they do – this does not mean I think security services should be recommending laws that affect freedoms and any law such as this that comes into effect in future should come with a sunset clause that means it must be renewed.


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