Letter to the government: drop the Health and Social Care Bill 2011

Everyone knows the shocking scale of the Tory-led coalition government's proposed changes to the NHS and degree to which they disregard public and expert concerns.

If you care about public healthcare in the UK, write to your MP. NOW.

Below the fold is the letter I have sent to my MP and to various members of the House of Lords, complete with references.

Continue reading "Letter to the government: drop the Health and Social Care Bill 2011"

Legal use of Terrorism Act 2000 44(2)

In follow up to my previous post. So I complained to the IPCC. After a number of initially dismissive letters back and forth, I started to get some thoughtful responses. One clarified that

"Under [section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000] officers do not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in terrorism."

This prompted a measured response on my part and now I have received a final letter from a DI of the British Transport Police. The letter acknowledges the recent European judgements, claims that

the vast majority of officers do use the powers of search with a genuine belief that that they are protecting the public"

and that

“whether this as been the correct method of prevention perhaps only time and hindsight will tell".

(I’m not going to reproduce it here because the letter appears to be personally written, rather than stock or secretary written.)

Well, I’m happy with that. Not happy, exactly, but at least it’s honest. My beef is no longer with the BTP.

Misuse of Terrorism Act 2000 44(2)

I just watched the compelling documentary Taking Liberties, which prompted me to finally send my complaint to the IPCC, and finish off this draft.

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:

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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

44. Authorisations.

(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.