The recent reports that police are seeking new stop and search powers following the European court’s ruling that Section 44 violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights comes as no surprise.
Any move to introduce legislation that allows the arbitrary detention of citizens for no crime should be resisted at all costs. In 2000 section 44 was introduced to ‘safeguard the community against terrorism’. The wholesale abuse of that law saw hundreds of thousands detained, public confidence in the police plummeted and not a single person was arrested for a terrorist offence.
Photographers were a particular group to be targeted and this led to the formation of the I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist (PHNAT) campaign. Blanket laws even applied within a narrowed time frame will single out innocent citizens and is still fundamentally wrong.
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