Select Committee on Home Affairs Sixth Report

Appendix: Official guidance on the Terrorism Act

PACE Code A provides the following guidance to the notion of reasonable suspicion:

"2.2: Reasonable grounds for suspicion depend on the circumstances in each case. There must be an objective basis for that suspicion based on facts, information, and/or intelligence which are relevant to the likelihood of finding an article of a certain kind or, in the case of searches under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, to the likelihood that the person is a terrorist. Reasonable suspicion can never be supported on the basis of personal factors alone without reliable supporting intelligence or information or some specific behaviour by the person concerned. For example, a person's race, age, appearance, or the fact that the person is known to have a previous conviction, cannot be used alone or in combination with each other as the reason for searching that person. Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on generalisations or stereotypical images of certain groups or categories of people as more likely to be involved in criminal activity.

2.3: Reasonable suspicion can sometimes exist without specific information or intelligence and on the basis of some level of generalisation stemming from the behaviour of the person. For example, if an officer encounters someone on the street at night who is obviously trying to hide something, the officer may (depending on other surrounding circumstances) base such suspicion on the fact that this kind of behaviour is often linked to stolen or prohibited articles being carried. Similarly, for the purposes of section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, suspicion that a person is a terrorist may arise from the person's behaviour at or near a location which has been identified as a potential target for terrorists."

The Home Office provides the following guidance to stops and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act:

"The authorisation should specify whether it applies across the entire force area, across a particular part of the force area, or only at a particular place (forces are asked to consider providing supporting intelligence on potential targets where the powers are restricted to a particular place). It must also specify the period for which the authorisation has effect, up to a maximum of 28 days. Each authorisation must be signed, dated and timed by the authorising officer. Where authorisation is given orally, the authorising officer must confirm it in writing as soon as it is reasonably practicable.

Section 45 is concerned with exercise of power. Searches under section 44, whether of vehicles or pedestrians, may be carried out only for the purpose of looking for articles of a kind which may be used in connection with terrorism. However, a search may be carried out whether or not a police officer has grounds for suspecting the presence of any such articles and he may seize and retain any items he discovers during the search which he reasonably suspects may be intended for use in connection with terrorism, A police officer may not ask anyone whom he stops and searches to remove any clothing in public except the following: headgear, footwear, an outer coat, jacket or gloves.

An officer may detain a vehicle or pedestrian for as long as is considered reasonable to effect a search at or near the place where the initial stop takes place. Police are required to provide a written statement on application from the driver of a vehicle stopped under section 44(1) or from a pedestrian stopped under section 44(2). All requests must be made within 12 months from the date on which the vehicle or pedestrian was stopped.

Section 46 makes provision for the duration of authorisation. Any authorisation given under section 44 must end on the last date or at the time specified in the authorisation, and that time or date must fall within a period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the authorisation was given. An authorisation must also be confirmed by the Secretary of State within 48 hours of the time it was given or it will cease to have effect and render any further exercise of the powers under section 44 unlawful. The 'clock starts ticking' at the time at which the form is signed or from the moment the authorising officer gives oral authorisation. The Secretary of State may, when confirming the authorisation, stipulate a shorter period during which the authorisation is to have effect than that initially specified in the authorisation. The Secretary of State may also cancel the authorisation with effect from a time specified by him. The authorisation may be renewed in writing by the officer who gave it or by another officer of sufficient rank."[250]

250   Home Office circular 3/2001 Back

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