While Strathclyde Police say that they only used this power 7 times while in force, there are no figures forthcoming from British Transport Police (BTP), who have an order of their own which remains in force. This covers Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley train stations, probably other transport hubs too.
It's believed that the number of searches by BTP will be greater than other police forces. As the order remains in force for the forseeable future, maybe it's time to dust down that copy of State of Exception…
SACC want to hear from anyone who's been stopped and searched by police recently, under S44 or any other powers. Send a description of what happened, when and where, and any other comments you'd like to make to email@example.com
Message from SACC, 17th August
Following the Glasgow airport terrorism incident in July, searches under Section 44 of Terrorism Act 2000 were authorised throughout Scotland for a period of 28 days. That period has now expired. Strathclyde Police say that the authorisation has not been renewed in Strathclyde, and that they believe it has not been renewed in any of the other policing regions in Scotland.
But authorisation for Section 44 searches has been renewed by British Transport Police for railway stations* in Scotland (we're not yet sure of the situation at other transport terminals). People have reported to us that they or their friends have been searched under s44 at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley stations.
Strathclyde Police say they carried out 7 searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 during July. That figure does not include searches carried out by British Transport Police.
Normally, police can only require you to be searched if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion. But they can search you under s44 whether or not they have grounds for suspicion, in places where s44 searches have been authorised. They can also search you for a weapon under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, in places where this power has been authorised. Section 60 authorisations last 24 hours and may be extended by 6 hours. They are given where police believe serious violence may occur.
Section 44 searches
Where s44 authorisation is in force:
* Police may search you for "articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism." This allows them to inspect items of almost any kind, including documents. So they could read documents you are carrying that identify you (this is different to the powers available under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act - in force, for example, during the 2005 G8 protests).
* Police may retain items that they reasonably suspect are intended to be used in connection with terrorism (this could include items that would not normally be considered to be illegal).
* Police do not need to have any grounds for suspicion in order to carry out a search.
* Police are not allowed to require you to remove any clothing in public except for headgear, footwear, an outer coat, a jacket or gloves.
* Police can give you a "pat down" search.
* Women cannot be touched by male police during searches.
* Police may detain you for as long as is "reasonably required to permit the search to be carried out" at or near the place where you are stopped.
* It is an offence to fail to stop if police require you to do so under s44.
* It is an offence to "wilfully obstruct" police in the exercise of s44 search powers, but you are not obliged to actively co-operate with the search.
* You are not obliged to provide your name or other details.
* You are not obliged to account for articles you are carrying, explain your movements, or answer other questions.
* Police may photograph you (since anyone may photograph anyone), but you are not obliged to co-operate with this.
* You should be given a "search receipt" (in law, you must be given one if you ask for it). The "search receipt" provides space for your name, so the officer filling it in may ask you for this. You are not obliged to provide your name. You are entitled to a "search receipt" whether or not you provide your name (the police should enter their own brief description of you in place of your name).