Muslim Safety Forum responds to reports that police seek replacement for Section 44

Concern over reports on replacement to Section 44

MSF is concerned over reports that senior police officers are seeking a replacement power to Section 44.

According to a report in the Guardian Newspaper, senior police officers are seeking a stop and search power to enhance counter terrorism street policing similar to Section 44. This power seems to be seeking what Section 44 was originally meant to entail: a time constrained, geographically limited and exceptional police power to stop and search people.

However, the MSF feels in light of the huge damage Section 44 has done to community-police relations without any apparent successes and the inability of UK police forces to, on their own accord, address this disproportionate use of it, we remain sceptical and concerned about this alleged recall of the power in a different guise by the police.

Shamiul Joarder, MSF’s lead on Counter Terrorism said:

“If true then we would find this development a major concern to us. We have contacted the police requesting an urgent meeting to explain this media report.”

He further added:

“The MSF has deep concerns over the reduction of police accountability through the proposed changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) which will, either directly or indirectly, increase police powers of all terrorism and general stop and searches/accounts whilst simultaneously reducing police accountability.

In this new context to allow for the draconian power such as s.44 in whatever guise will simply alienate vast swathes of communities who we have only just managed to build a working relationship with.”

Muslim Safety Forum press release, 30 December 2010

See also ENGAGE, 30 December 2010

Update:  And see Salma Yaqoob‘s comments.