Sir Ian Blair, the Met Commissioner who defended his force after its murder of Jean Charles de Menezes has attacked the European Court of Human Rights for declaring Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in contravention with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR):
It is important to understand that the power granted by this legislation is entirely different to that provided for stop and search for drugs, stolen goods and weapons. For those offences, police have to have reasonable suspicion that an individual may have such items upon them. The whole point of Section 44 is that that is not required: this is a process, akin to an airport search, designed to make clear to terrorists that they are at risk, however covert their behaviour, of being searched and having their details logged at random.
Were the power to be abolished or unduly curtailed in its application – although as Lord Carlile suggests, there may be merit in a limited review following this judgment – two consequences are likely. The first is that it would be almost inevitable that police officers would, as a pragmatic solution, begin to target these kind of searches much more closely on the particular community from which the current threat is seen mainly but not exclusively to come, young Muslims, with all the increase in alienation that would engender. Inconvenience shared must be preferable. Second, and avoidably, Britain would simply be less safe.
What a complete and utter idiot. Inconvenience shared? Britain less safe? What on earth is this madman going on about? The inconvenience is far from shared:
Last year it was revealed that since May 2007 the number of searches under section 44 powers had risen by 322% for black people, 277% for Asian people, but only 185% for white people. The result was that police reportedly increased the searches in order to balance racial quotas, in one instance mounting an operation at the entrance of the British Library in London.
I myself have been on the receiving end of a search, when I was taking entirely lawful photos in an entirely lawful place. When I complained about the search the Met officer admitted they had only stopped me because I was white, and in that borough most of their stops were Asian or black. It’s also not remotely clear what benefit Section 44 has actually had. How on earth would losing arbitrary power to stop and search, which is frequently abused actually make the country less safe? By no longer stopping photographers taking photos of tall buildings? I can’t believe this blithering idiot was actually in charge of the Metropolitan Police. The ECHR accepts that this power is arbitrary, is thus used arbitrarily and as a result breaks our human right of privacy. Bizarrely as Porter says, the same government which introduced the Human Rights Act, has decided to appeal the court’s ruling.
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