Skip to main content

Terrorism Stop and Search Powers

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

I announced on 26 January the findings from my review of counter-terrorism and security powers. This included a recommendation that the Government consider whether the police needed the new counter-terrorism stop and search power more quickly than the Protection of Freedoms Bill would allow. On 1 March 2011 I announced that, given the current threat environment, I had concluded that the police do need the powers more quickly than the Bill would allow.

The most appropriate way of meeting the legal and operational requirements concerning the counter-terrorism stop and search powers exercisable without reasonable suspicion is to make a remedial order under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to make immediate changes to the legislation. I therefore made a remedial order concerning the Terrorism Act 2000 on 16 March and that order has today been laid before Parliament. The new powers contained in that order are supported by a robust statutory code of practice. I have used the urgency procedure provided by paragraph 2(b) of schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act to make the remedial order because I have concluded that having these powers available to the police now is in the interests of national security and is needed to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.

The remedial order replaces sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with a more targeted and proportionate power. The provisions in the order will cease to have effect on the coming into force of the similar provisions in the Protection of Freedoms Bill—in other words, the order makes temporary provision and Parliament will have the opportunity to fully scrutinise the replacement powers in the usual way during the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The order removes the incompatibility of sections 44 to 46 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with the European convention of human rights in the light of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of Gillan and Quinton which became final in June 2010.

The making of a remedial order using the urgency procedure means that it will come into force on 18 March. It will cease to have effect if both Houses have not approved the order by resolution within 120 days of the remedial order being made (the calculation of “days” for this purpose does not include any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or both Houses are adjourned for more than four days).

The decision to make a remedial order means that the discredited, ineffective and unfair “no suspicion” stop and search powers provided by sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are, in effect, replaced by a much more targeted and proportionate power. The use of an urgent remedial order is a necessary and sensible step to ensure that the police have the necessary powers in place to continue to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.