Freesteel Blog » Section 44 Terrorism Act paperwork

Section 44 Terrorism Act paperwork

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 4:21 pm Written by:

There’s a long running battle between civil rights and the forces for a police state.

One of the tangible wins is the right not to be hassled by the police if you’re not doing anything wrong.

But what if there is a state of emergency and it’s necessary to temporarily suspend this right to allow the police to prevent an act of terrorism by searching anyone they please?

Well, darling, that’s what Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is for. It allows any chief constable to declare that this civil right does not apply for the next 28 days in any area of the country — if he “considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism”.

Doesn’t need to have any evidence, ongoing inquiry, proof or anything like that. Whenever it’s convenient, you go on and declare it. You can lie about the evidence on the authorisation certificate. Doesn’t matter.

Since taking away our civil rights is such a big leap, these orders have to be rubber stamped confirmed by the Home Secretary (mostly David Blunkett).

So they declared one of these police stop-and-search zones around the whole of London, and got him to sign of on it each and every month. Here is part of his schedule: [earlier documentation of this FOI is here]

Date & Time authorised To run until Duration (in days) Force Section Date, Time Confirmed by Home Office Home Office authority (in days)
14/07/2004 13:45 02/08/2004 23:59 19.43 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 15/07/2004 15:40 1.08
29/07/2004 13:45 25/08/2004 23:59 27.43 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 30/07/2004 17:10 1.14
24/08/2004 18:00 20/09/2004 23:59 27.25 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 25/08/2004 13:35 0.82
20/09/2004 06:45 17/10/2004 23:59 27.72 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 20/09/2004 18:35 0.49
13/10/2004 11:40 09/11/2004 23:59 27.51 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 14/10/2004 11:30 0.99
08/11/2004 08:30 05/12/2004 23:59 27.65 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 09/11/2004 17:00 1.35
01/12/2004 11:45 28/12/2004 23:59 27.51 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) refused refused
02/12/2004 13:50 28/12/2004 23:59 26.42 Metropolitan Police s44(1) & (2) 02/12/2004 17:25 0.15

Oh look, he “refused” it on one of the days. But that’s okay, he signed the same order the very next day, and normal police state service was assured.

Of course, if this is what we wanted, the law would have said:

“From now on you have no right not to be hassled by the police if you’re not doing anything wrong anywhere in London.”

But it didn’t.

Instead it arranged for it to be the case for the cost of 12 ministerial signatures per year — which is the same thing, but is a lot harder to prove when they keep explaining that they can’t give out the complete information because of, ah, terrorism.

After all, if people found out that their rights had been summarily taken away, they’d demand to have them back, and that would be harmful for their safety.

Of course, it was only a matter of time for enough people to learn the news first hand as over a hundred thousand were being stopped-and-searched each year.

So, following growing public disquiet, the police held a Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 – tactical use review in 2009:

10. The MPS has in place an area-wide authority for Section 44, signed by ACSO and reviewed every 28 days or close to, on a schedule aligned with our Guardian Partner forces in London (City of London Police, British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police).

11. It is important to note that this is not an ongoing power or blanket authority, each renewal is distinct, and may be different dependent on threat and intelligence.

12. Following the MPA’s London Debate, there has been wide consultation including Muslim Safety Forum, Diversity Directorate, Liberty, British Transport Police, City of London Police, Community Forum Chair, MPA S&S monitoring network, Specialist Operations, Territorial Policing (front line officers and staff) and other subject matter experts.

13. The consultation confirmed suggestions that the power is seen as controversial and has the potential to have a negative impact, particularly on minority communities.

So they’re backing off a bit, but keeping the law in place.

It would be a lot better to change it so it didn’t rely on the signature of one often hopelessly gullible Home Secretary, but had to be authorised by a proper judge who received actual evidence that the powers were needed, and who would probably ask to see the results of the previous months’ terrorist plots that were uncovered when the police came back for more.

What we have right now is bullshit. Why has it taken so damn long to substantiate it?

1 Comment

  • 1. Ian puddick replies at 22nd September 2010, 11:30 pm :

    The biggest and most expensive abuse of section 44 of the terrorist act to date, well over £1m spent by counter terrorist police Inc phone taps.
    It’s a story that will challenge your beliefs about our policing policy and the culture that is developing, as a consultant to HM Queen, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
    Video blog
    I have been to parliament to discuss this with MP’s

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