Thursday, 3 December 2009

ID cards and more on civil liberties

silicon.com has an indictment of New Labour's attempts to impose ID cards on the UK population. From the original consultation paper in 2002, in which it was envisaged that ID cards would be rolled out to the general public in the UK from 2007/08, that by 2013 it would be compulsory to carry one, and that the card would incorporate biometric data, to today's situation, there has been a steady retreat and a slew of missed deadlines. The government should admit defeat now.

On the same day, the Independent newspaper starts a campaign against the misuse of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The Liberty web-site sums up the situation: "Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the Chief Constable to designate an area within which individuals may stop and search a vehicle, driver, passenger, pedestrian and anything carried by a pedestrian for the purpose of searching for articles which could be used in connection with terrorism. There need not be any grounds for suspecting the presence of such articles. Failure to stop and/or obstructing a police constable acting under section 44 is a criminal offence. Currently, the whole of greater London has been designated as such an area under s44."

Photography is considered to be usable in connection with terrorism. This has led to the ridiculous situation of the snapper of a fish-and-chip shop being stopped and searched, because he happened to be in a Section 44 area. The newspaper article doesn't say whether DNA swabs were taken, but it would not surprise me if the police tried it on.

Later: I see that Peter Black beat me to it with a reaction to the Indy article. There is also a worrying comment to his blog that S.44 has been applied to Swansea. Presumably the use of this law is regarded as an operational matter, but surely our representatives on the South Wales Police Authority can press the case for common-sense and proportionate application of anti-terrorist provisions?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for Section 44 areas around by you then Frank?

Skewen Railway Station, Ritz Fish Bar, The Crown, Skewen Library, all potential terrorist targets

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Police realise that they are no-longer policing by consent, or if they are actually bothered!

Frank H Little said...

I'm surprised that you haven't drawn attention to the security aspects of the Cadoxton war memorial or St Catwg's church, both of which I have frequently photographed.

Anonymous said...

Well, we will have to report you to the Police!