UK announces suspension of stop-and-search

The Guardian reports that the Home Secretary announced today that the the police’s use stop and search powers against individuals is to be scrapped immediately.

The home secretary’s decision follows a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in January that the powers were unlawful because they were too broadly drawn and lacked sufficient safeguards to protect civil liberties.

In an unexpected statement to the Commons today, May said she had taken urgent legal advice and consulted the police since the Strasbourg ruling was confirmed as final last Wednesday.

“In order to comply with the judgment, but avoid pre-empting the review of counter-terrorism legislation, I have decided to introduce interim guidelines for the police,” the home secretary told the Commons.

“I am therefore changing the test for authorisation for the use of section 44 powers from requiring a search to be ‘expedient’ for the prevention of terrorism, to the stricter test of it being ‘necessary’ for that purpose. And, most importantly, I am introducing a new suspicion threshold.”

She added: “Officers will no longer be able to search individuals using section 44 powers. Instead they will have to rely on section 43 powers, which require officers to reasonably suspect the person to be a terrorist. And officers will only be able to use section 44 in relation to the searches of vehicles. I will only confirm these authorisations where they are considered to be necessary, and officers will only be able to use them when they have ‘reasonable suspicion’.”

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