article in today's Guardian about the total pointlessness of the Section 44 stop-and-search tactics the police have employed against all manner of innocent people in the last few years – including many, many hapless photographers. Even the Government's own man, David Davis, is calling this what it is: lunacy.
More than 100,000 people were stopped and searched by police under counter-terrorism powers last year but none of them were arrested for terrorism-related offences, according to Home Office figures published today.
The statistics show that 504 people out of the 101,248 searches were arrested for any offence – an arrest rate of 0.5%, compared with an average 10% arrest rate for street searches under normal police powers.
The figures prompted the former Conservative home affairs spokesman David Davis to call for the controversial policy to be scrapped.
"This astonishing fact of no terrorism-related arrests, let alone prosecutions or convictions, in over 100,000 stop and searches, demonstrates what a massively counter-productive policy this is," said Davis.
Police forces across the country have been warned to stop using anti-terror
laws to question and search innocent photographers after The Independent
forced senior officers to admit that the controversial legislation is being
The strongly worded warning was circulated by the Association of Chief Police
Officers (Acpo) last night. In an email sent to the chief constables of
England and Wales’s 43 police forces, officers were advised that Section 44
powers should not be used unnecessarily against photographers. The message
says: “Officers and community support officers are reminded that we
should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos. Unnecessarily
restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional, is
Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chairman of Acpo’s media advisory group, took
the decision to send the warning after growing criticism of the police’s
treatment of photographers.
Writing in today’s Independent, he says: “Everyone… has a right to take
photographs and film in public places. Taking photographs… is not normally
cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of
photographs, film or digital images in a public place.”
He added: “We need to make sure that our officers and Police Community
Support Officers [PCSOs] are not unnecessarily targeting photographers just
because they are going about their business. The last thing in the world we
want to do is give photographers a hard time or alienate the public. We need
the public to help us.
“Photographers should be left alone to get on with what they are doing.
If an officer is suspicious of them for some reason they can just go up to
them and have a chat with them – use old-fashioned policing skills to be
frank – rather than using these powers, which we don’t want to over-use at
This is utterly fantastic, and I really do hope this results in real education and instruction given to officers and especially PCSOs who seem to be behind a lot of the problems. It’s great to see such enlightened policy coming out of ACPO, finally. Of course, talk is cheap….