Belfast Telegraph

Boy (15) in legal action over PSNI 'terrorism arrest'

The 15-year-old boy claimed his rights as a child were breached when he was detained.
The 15-year-old boy claimed his rights as a child were breached when he was detained.

By Alan Erwin

A 15-year-old boy is taking legal action after he was allegedly stopped and searched as a terrorist suspect.

The youth, who cannot be identified, claims the Police Service of Northern Ireland unlawfully breached his rights as a child by the detention in west Belfast.

No reasonable grounds were given for justifying the action taken against the schoolboy, his lawyers contend.

His challenge has been listed for a hearing at the High Court later this month.

According the schoolboy's solicitor he was in a car being driven by his father when police stopped them in September last year.

He was allegedly required to get out of the vehicle and stand on a footpath for an officer to search him under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The legislation enables police to detain and search anyone reasonably suspected of being a terrorist for any evidence.

Nothing was found on the boy, it was stressed.

He is seeking to judicially review the PSNI's decision to carry out the actions on him.

A challenge is also being brought against the Northern Ireland Secretary of State over an alleged failure to issue a code of practice for the stop and search powers which adequately protects the best interests of the child.

The boy's solicitor, Michael Brentnall of Brentnall Legal Limited, said: "Our client, a minor, was searched by PSNI officers under the Terrorism Act, effectively on the basis that he was a terrorist. 

"We state that by conducting such a search on him in the absence of reasonable grounds that he was a terrorist, the PSNI have not only acted unlawfully, but have strayed into territory whereby they have total disregard for the rights of children.

"This legislation is not covered by a code of practice which adequately covers the use of this power against a child."

Referring to a suggestion by Chief Constable Simon Byrne that the sons or daughters of paramilitaries could be taken into care, Mr Brentnall added: "We will also be requesting whether these actions form the basis of a new PSNI policy in respect of children."

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