Section 44 of the Terrorism Act – that sledgehammer used far too often in recent times to crack the nut of people indulging in such subversive acts as taking photographs – suffered a setback today when its powers to stop and search individuals without grounds for suspicion were declared illegal by the European Court of Human Rights.
Moreover, the Court has ruled that, in the cases it has considered, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. The Government is considering an appeal, and no doubt will cite in its defence the idea that this law exists to keep us all safe from terrorism. However, its use in targeting photographers and tourists is inexcusable, and, coincidentally, other European countries, both inside the EU and out, do not seem to need such measures.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling says that such measures should not be used as part of what he calls “day to day policing”. So let’s see his party lobbying the Government to have Section 44 repealed. After all, it wouldn’t be a load of hot air generated for political advantage. Would it?