I was travelling Oxford to Cambridge, and had missed my connection at Paddington Station, London. With insufficient money for a hotel, I decided to just sleep in the station and catch the first train back to Cambridge. It was a cold night, so I plugged my headphones into my iPod, switched it to Pseudopod, pulled my Warwick Atheists hoodie tight around me, and sat on a light for warmth. For the next hour or so, I moved between sitting on lights and sitting with my back to a lit sign on a stall, trying to get most warm and most comfortable. There were a few other people in the station — perhaps in similar circumstances, perhaps homeless and seeking shelter from the outside wind. After some time I was dosing and listening to Pseudopod still, when I was woken (about 01:45 am) by a couple of officers in uniform who informed me that they were conducting “random” stop-and-searches under new anti-terrorism regulations. They asked me why I was there, and various other circumstantial questions. They asked to look in my backpack (which contained clothes, university work, laptop, wires).
Here’s a copy of the receipt they issued me before leaving me to sleep, if you're interested:
I looked up “44(2)”, which means “section 44, subsection 2”, presumably, (the only official justification for the search given) and found it in the Terrorism Act 2000. I quote:
Terrorism Act 2000
Power to stop and search
(2) An authorisation under this subsection authorises any constable in uniform to stop a pedestrian in an area or at a place speciﬁed in the
authorisation and to search —
(a) the pedestrian;
(b) anything carried by him.
(3) An authorisation under subsection (1) or (2) may be given only if the person giving it considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.
From this, it doesn't seem like "random" searches are authorised, since they by definition can't be justified as "expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.
I am submitting a somewhat abbreviated version of this to the IPCC in the form of an official complaint.