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DUP fears as stop and search halted

The Government has been told it must act to ensure that people are fully protected after the PSNI’s power to stop and search suspects was suspended.

The controversial powers were halted yesterday as Home Secretary Theresa May ruled they should only be used against suspected terrorists.

It follows a recent European court ruling that the power to search people without suspicion — under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 — was illegal.

But there were warnings from the DUP last night that the suspension of stop and search powers must not diminish the ability of the police to operate effectively.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley junior said the Government had to ensure people in Northern Ireland are adequately protected.

“There appears to have been a collective hoorah raised about the removal of powers which should be decided upon by Parliament, not by a European court,” he said. “This reduction in powers must not diminish the ability of the police to operate effectively and the Government must ensure the announcement does not have a detrimental effect on safety in this part of the UK.”

Last year police in Northern Ireland tripled their use of the UK-wide legislation, arguing it was necessary following an upsurge in dissident republican activity. But this had led to concerns that the powers were being abused by officers.

The legislation had been challenged by a journalist and an anti-war protester who were stopped by officers in London in 2003.

Earlier this year the European Court of Human Rights said the pair's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.

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