Photographers face a potential new threat to their right to take pictures in public.rnrn
Photographers face a potential new threat to their right to take pictures in public.
Police chiefs have warned that stop and search of terror suspects will remain a priority, despite last year’s overhaul of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.
Last year, the Government cut police powers to use the controversial Section 44 law following a long-running campaign by photographers and human rights organisations.
Section 44 allowed officers to stop and search someone without reasonable grounds for suspicion.
In July 2010, Home Secretary Theresa May ruled that police officers would only be allowed to use Section 44 in relation to searches of vehicles.
And, in August, she said the use of counter-terrorism legislation in relation to photography would be reviewed as a ‘priority’ as part of an overhaul of anti-terror laws, due to be published shortly.
However, ahead of the review’s publication, it seems chief constables are now seeking fresh powers in the wake of the Section 44 change, which followed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
Press reports published over Christmas suggested that top police officers have demanded the Government brings in new legislation, allowing officers to stop and search people without grounds for suspecting they are involved in terrorist activity.
But the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) today played down the newsworthiness of the reports.
Its spokesman told Amateur Photographer: ?The Government?s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, has already suggested that consideration be given to a more limited provision which would allow police to carry out searches in specific circumstances where there is evidence of heightened threat or risk, such as in counter-terrorism operations, or around iconic events or critical sites.?
The ACPO spokesman added: ?The threat remains real and serious and stop and search has helped deter and disrupt terrorist activity and create a hostile environment for terrorists. Protecting the public remains our priority.?
ACPO represents Chief Constables in the 44 police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.