The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) has identified stop and search, including Schedule 7 stop and search, as a priority area because of the equality and human rights implications of its use. The Commission has undertaken extensive work on stop and search under Section 1 (s.1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1994 (PACE), Section 44 (s.44) of the Terrorism Act 2000, s.60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and more recently Schedule 7, including responding to the Government's consultation on aspects of its implementation.
The Commission's analysis suggests that a power to stop, detain and question an individual about their political and religious beliefs and activities, as well as those of others in their community and family, without requiring prior suspicion or other limitations, is unlawful. It is a breach of the requirement that such an interference be ‘prescribed by law / in accordance with the law’ pursuant to European Convention of Human Rights (“the ECHR”) Articles 5 and/or 8.
According to the statistics provided at Annex A of the Home Office consultation document, between 70-90,000 people have been stopped under Schedule 7 each year between 2009-2012. The Commission’s research into the impact of counter-terrorism measures on the Muslim community noted that: ‘There was widespread concern about the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, stop and search, without suspicion at airports, as it affected a cross section of the Muslim population and involved questioning individuals about their religious beliefs and practices’.
The briefing can be downloaded here.
Last updated: 05 May 2016