Stop and search not stopped

THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights has ruled that random Section 44 Terrorism Act searches are a breach of human rights (see /1002echr.html). But for the moment, it's regrettably still a bad idea to refuse to co-operate with a Section 44 search, however silly it is.

8 July 2010

The Home Secretary announced on 8 July 2010 that Section 44 should no longer be used to stop anyone on foot.

This followed a panel of the ECHR Grand Chamber declining to hear the UK government's objections to the ruling, on 30 June 2010.

12 January 2010

We have word that on Friday 10 January the UK government indeed referred the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. No word yet on when a panel of the Grand Chamber will decide whether to entertain a re-hearing. So the verdict against Section 44 isn't finalised.

Pennie Quinton photographs the European Court of Human Rights

Pennie Quinton photographs the European Court of Human Rights after her hearing on Section 44 there in May 2009 - which led to it being ruled a breach of human rights

The UK government has a deadline of 12 April to request that the judgement on Section 44 be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court. The Freelance is puzzled how it can argue that there is "a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the Convention or its protocols, or a serious issue of general importance," but that's what it pays lawyers loads for.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police seem to be operating as if it's business as usual, at least until the deadline has passed, so for the moment you risk (at least) arrest if you refuse a Section 44 search.

For the moment, journalists are advised to reluctantly tolerate such a search. Insist on a Stop/Search Record Form 5090 and note down as soon as possible details of the search - time, location, officers' shoulder numbers, etc. with a possible view to making a complaint. Get details of witnesses as well if there are any. And stand by for an announcement on or shortly after 12 April.

There's a guide to getting legal assistance from the NUJ at /0701law.html. A gallery of Form 5090s given to photographers after Section 44 searches is at .

Seminars and training

The Association of Photographers has invited human rights lawyer Shamik Dutta, from law firm Fisher Meredith LLP, to speak at a seminar on Wednesday 14 April dealing with issues concerning the rights photographers have when asked by the police to submit to a search or to stop either taking pictures or filming. Veteran NUJ photographer David Hoffman is also speaking. It's free and from 18:30 to 20:30. To book your place, email

And, on the activist side of the barrier, the Network for Police Monitoring - made up of individuals involved in Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Fitwatch and Newham Monitoring Project. It's offering a free training day on Sunday 18 April from 10:30 to 16:30. To book email

[Site map] Last modified: 04 Apr 2010 - © 2010 contributors
The Freelance editor is elected by London Freelance Branch and responsibility for content lies solely with the editors of the time
Send comments to the editors: