I'm glad to see from Liberty that the Government's final appeal over the use of Section 44 searches has been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights. This should mean that they are stopped once and for all.
This is a nasty law which allows whole areas to be designated so that the Police can stop and search you without even suspecting you of anything. You are between 5 and 7 times more likely to be stopped under Section 44 if you are black or Asian.
Figures show that in 2009 alone, 200,444 people were stopped and searched in England, Wales and Scotland. That's just shy of half the population of Edinburgh, just to get it in perspective. You might think that because the PM until recently spent a fair amount of time at his home in Fife, Scotland's figures would be pretty high. Actually, no. I don't think we've been in any greater danger up here, but the Herald reported earlier this month that only 79 searches were carried out in Scotland. Worryingly, that article states that the power was abused by Police Forces across the UK, with areas being designated for longer than they should have been, meaning that some people may have been stopped and searched illegally. I'm glad to see that the Government has made these errors public and I hope that when it makes its own mistakes, as it is bound to do, it will be as open about them as it is about Labour's.
That's the danger of a state which treats civil liberties in such a cavalier fashion. I think the state is there to serve people, not put them down and it's interesting that the way the Section 44 power has been operated has been so lax.
Liberty suggests that this power would be a good one to get rid off via the Freedom Bill and I agree with that.