Section 50 PRA is another Human Rights Infringement

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The police have been infringing on our Human Rights for years. Most notably section 44 of the terrorism act 2000 which was used as a blanket for the police to stop and search anyone they liked even without suspicion of an offence.

In 2002 a new act came into use called the Police Reform Act and section 50 of this very act gives the police another blanket to be used to infringe on our human rights to privacy.

I am fighting a personal cause against the misuse of this power and the human rights violation it offers.

We, as members of the public should be able to go about our daily lives unimpeded and should only be made to give up our privacy if a crime has been committed. 

UNDER SECTION 44 OF THE TERRORISM ACT 2000, ANY POLICE OFFICER COULD STOP AND SEARCH ANYONE OR ANY VEHICLE WITHIN A SPECIFIC AREA.

The powers under section 44 were so broadly drawn that authorisations allowing for stop and search were made on a rolling basis from their introduction in 2001. For example, for almost 10 years all of Greater London was designated as an area in which anyone could be stopped and searched without suspicion.

In early 2010 Liberty Human Rights Group won a landmark legal case before the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that section 44 was unlawful. In Gillan and Quinton v UK, the Court ruled that section 44 violates the right to respect for private life because the power is so broad it fails to provide safeguards against abuse.

This Act saw many people abused under that power, detained unlawfully, threatened, assaulted and even arrested simply because they were in the wrong place or the police didn't like the look of them.

Unfortunately Section 50 Police Reform Act is now being abused in the same manner and is infringing on our human rights.

Section 50 Police Reform Act 2002 is an Anti Social Behaviour power. If you are
reasonably believed to be committing anti-social behaviour you can be required to
give your name and address to an officer in uniform.

Anti social behaviour is defined as behaviour likely to cause Harassment Alarm or
Distress, which is the same as the offence under s5 Public Order Act 1986. Given that, any prosecution should be tied to a s5 (or more serious) offence. A stand alone case seems to invalidate the “reasonable belief” as if the constable had reasonable belief (a higher standard than the reasonable suspicion he would require to arrest for s5) why wasn’t an arrest for breach of s5 made.

The thing to note about Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002, is that the Police need only believe that you are acting in a manner likely to cause Harassment Alarm or Distress and as such needs no evidence other than their belief.

Any person who—

(a)fails to give his name and address when required to do so under subsection (1), or

(b)gives a false or inaccurate name or address in response to a requirement under that subsection,

is guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

So, by conviction only of the Police officers belief, you are ordered and forced under threat of violence and a criminal record to give up your privacy. And by not wanting to be placed on a police computer system for lack of breaking any law, you will subsequently be assaulted and arrested.

This section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 is now the Police's 'go to' offence in place of section 44 of the terrorism act 2000.

Now, I agree that under certain circumstances the police need to identify a suspect or someone who has broken the law. But forcing innocent people to give up their right to privacy for fear of assault and arrest is completely wrong.

If the 'belief' element was removed then they would have to act solely on those who HAVE committed the offence and that offence can be substantiated with witnesses who are NOT other police officers. This then makes the request lawful as they are then dealing with an offence and NOT a 'belief' that an offence will take place.

It's like saying "I believe that you might steal a car" simply because you have a set of keys in your pocket.

Many people are being affected by Section 50 and many had been affected by section 44 of the terrorist act before it was repealed and if we do not stand up for our rights then more and more of them will be eroded.