Daily Mail (London), May 8, 2009
Scotland Yard is scaling down its use of controversial powers which allow officers to stop and search people without reasonable grounds for suspicion.
Stung by criticism that the practice has alienated ethnic minorities, the Metropolitan Police is changing its policy on when Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 can be employed.
In future its use will be restricted to policing ‘iconic’ or strategically important sites, such as Buckingham Palace and Parliament, and to specific operations.
In other cases officers will be told to use Section 43 of the Act, which requires them to have reasonable suspicion that the person they are stopping is a terrorist.
The Met increased its use of the Section 44 powers following the car bomb attacks on a nightclub in Haymarket, Central London, and Glasgow Airport in June 2007.
Since October of that year the force has carried out 154,293 stop and searches.
But Government figures released last week showed that black and Asian people were targeted disproportionately.
Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who took over as the force’s anti-terror chief last month, highlighted the concerns in a recent report to the Met Police Authority.
He wrote: ‘The power is seen as controversial and has the potential to have a negative impact, particularly on minority communities.’