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Police have been accused of misusing powers granted under anti-terror legislation after a series of incidents, ranging from the innocuous to the bizarre, in which photographers were questioned by officers for taking innocent pictures of tourist destinations, landmarks and even a fish and chip shop.
Police are allowed to stop and search anyone in a designated "Section 44 authorisation" zone without having to give a reason. But amateur and professional photographers have complained that they are frequently being stopped and treated as potential terrorists on a reconnaissance mission. Last night the Government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws warned police forces to carefully examine how they use the controversial legislation.
Most of those stopped are told they are being questioned under Section 44, a controversial power which allows senior officers to designate entire areas of their police force regions as stop-and-search zones. The areas are chosen based on their likelihood of being a terrorism target.
More than 100 exist in London alone, covering areas such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and other landmarks. Every train station in the UK is covered by a Section 44 order. In the first quarter of this financial year 96 per cent of all Section 44 searches were carried out by the Metropolitan Police and the British Transport Police. Every area of the UK which has a Section 44 in place is known to the Home Office. But, due to the fear that the information could be used by terrorists to plan attacks, most of the the exact locations covered by Section 44 authorisations are kept secret, meaning members of the public have no idea if they are in one or not.
..And in July Alex Turner, an amateur photographer from Kent, was arrested after he took pictures of Mick's Plaice, a fish and chip shop in Chatham
Somebody in London is stopped and searched every three minutes, according to new figures obtained by BBC London.
The Metropolitan Police used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in London.
That compares to almost 72,000 anti-terror stop and searches carried out in the previous year.
The number of people stopped and searched by police under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 has fallen.
Police used the powers to stop and search 36,189 people between April and June 2009 - a fall of 37% on the same period in 2008.
Originally posted by PsykoOps
The thing is especially for photographers that if you get targeted and you stand for your rights you will be on government #list for the rest of your life. That alone is reason why many choose not to challenge illegal 'orders' from the cops.