Friday, 11 April 2008

Section 44(2) Strikes Back

Regular readers might remember my recent encounter with the police, when I was stopped and searched under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000. I've been thinking about this off and on ever since, and wondering about various aspects of it. I'm still not sure what I think about it, but my thinking about it has been brought to the fore again in the last few days, as on Wednesday I was stopped again in the same place (exiting Lime Street undergound station).

As I got to the top of the escalator I saw a policeman, and I don't know, maybe a look of "here we go" crossed my face, because I went to walk past him he put his hand on my arm (not forcefully) and said, "Could you come over here please sir, this will just take five minutes."

As I walked to the side with him, out of the way of those leaving the station (but still in full view, which is something that I do not like about this procedure, especially given the conditions/reasons for stopping a person, i.e., whatever they think) I said, "Is this a stop and search under Section 44(2)?"

He stopped and blinked twice, and then asked, "Have you been stopped before?"

"About a month ago."

He smiled, then laughed and waved me away: "On you go then, don't worry, it's just that you look shifty!"

I think I'm going to get off the train at a different stop from now on.


Amanda said...

LOL! You looked shifty!

Do you think you purposely walked past the policeman to see what would happen?

zero_zero_one said...

I was just walking; I had to walk past him in order to leave, there was no way I couldn't (because of where he was stood in relation to the exit).

The guy laughed, and I laughed at the time, but thinking about it I do feel slightly worried - not that I look shifty but what does this say about the law and how it is administered?

Amanda said...

Exactly. People could look shifty for all sorts of reasons. And since they're on the look out for 'shifty' the real baddies will just look straight!

Bilbo said...

If looking shifty were a chargeable offense here in the States, I'd have been locked up long ago, along with most of Congress, the President and Vice President, and every rap "artist." You might consider spending some time in front of your bathroom mirror practicing not looking shifty. In all seriousness, though, you make a good point about how the law is administered. If "looking shifty" is enough to get one stopped and searched, the potential for abuse is enormous. I need to think about this for a'll probably see me taking off on this in my blog in a few days.