New call to rethink stop and search
A committee of MPs and peers has renewed its call for the Government to rethink police stop-and-search powers in counter-terrorism cases, days ahead of a debate in the House of Lords over whether they should be kept.
Home Secretary Theresa May rejected a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) in July for additional safeguards to avoid the risk of human rights breaches.
On the same day, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, voiced concerns that the safeguards are not strong enough to prevent possible violations.
An order put in place in March in response to a European Court of Human Rights judgment gives the police an exceptional power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion in counter-terrorism cases.
The order will lapse unless it is agreed by both Houses of Parliament by October 14, and Lords will discuss it on Wednesday.
In a report, the JCHR repeated concerns it raised earlier this year and called on Mrs May to amend the order to require judicial authorisation of the power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion.
And they said she should make clear that officers authorising a stop must have a reasonable basis to suspect that an act of terrorism will take place and that the action is necessary and proportionate to prevent it.
Committee chairman Hywel Francis said: "We are disappointed that, despite some welcome clarifications, the Government has not accepted the need to amend this order to prevent possible future human rights violations.
"We want the independent reviewer, David Anderson QC, to examine the operational gap which the Government says justifies using the urgent procedure for this order.
"The power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion is rightly controversial and has to be very tightly controlled. We remain concerned that, as it stands, without tighter definition of the power and stronger legal safeguards, the order will not prevent future legal challenges."