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31/10/03 HIGH COURT RULING - VERY SHORT EXCERPTS

This page has some of the key excerpts from the recent ruling from the High Court on the anti-terror searches. Following each excerpt is a number in square brackets to indicate the paragraph from which it is drawn. For a page with some analysis and longer excerpts, click here. For the complete text of the ruling can be accessed at BAILII, click here. The case has the Neutral Citation Number [2003] EWHC 2545 (Admin).

EXCERPTS

"Form 5090, a standard Stop and Search form... is given to people who have been stopped and searched."... [15]

"[T]he person searched receives a carbon copy which is not always legible."... [15]

"This form is not really suited to stop/searches under section 44 where no grounds of suspicion are required. It presupposes, for instance, that the police are entitled to ask the person stopped his name, address, date of birth and height, and to record details about his personal appearance. So far as the actual search is concerned, the police officer is confronted with one line which starts "Object" and a number of lines which start "grounds". As the essence of the statutory power is that the police are entitled to stop people at random, search them to see if they have "articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism", and then allow them to go on their way if no such articles are found (or nothing which might lead the police reasonably to suspect some matter which might give them further powers), this form seems to be inappropriate for a section 44 search. This is evidenced by the difficulties police officers encountered in filling it up during the arms fair stop/searches that are at the centre of this case."... [16]

"[I]t behoves the police to take particular care to ensure that these powers are not used arbitrarily or against any particular group of people. If they do not take this care, they will be at risk of being unable to defend themselves against challenges like those made in the present case."... [44]

"Of course these powers must not be used capriciously and arbitrarily, and if in any particular case a person has grounds for complaint that the police were misusing their powers he/she will have a private law action against the police officer(s) concerned. Similarly, if a court was satisfied that in a collective way the police were abusing their powers for an improper purpose, a public law remedy would be available."... [55]

"[I]f the police abuse these powers and target them disproportionately against those whom they perceive to be no particular friends of theirs the terrorists will have to that extent won. The right to demonstrate peacefully against an arms fair is just as important as the right to walk or cycle about the streets of London without being stopped by the police unless they have reasonable cause. If the police wish to use this extraordinary power to stop and search without cause they must exercise it in a way that does not give rise to legitimate complaints of arbitrary abuse of power."... [57]

"[I]t was a fairly close call, and the Metropolitan Police would do well to review their training and briefing and the language of the standard forms they use for section 44 stop/searches if they wish to avoid a similar challenge in future.".... [58]

"what should be a very quick random stop/search procedure has been elevated into a slow bureaucratic process" .... [64]

"No wonder people got annoyed." [64]