The life and death of Section 44 (Stop and Search) Terrorism Act 2000

McDonagh, Michael C. (2013) The life and death of Section 44 (Stop and Search) Terrorism Act 2000. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This professional doctorate is about the life (inception), the utilisation (implementation) and ultimately the death (repeal) of a highly controversial and unpopular counter terrorism stop and search power (Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000) that was deployed within the United Kingdom.
At the time of writing this professional doctorate the United Kingdom (UK) threat level stands at SUBSTANTIAL. This means that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JT AC), MI5 have assessed the intelligence that it holds and has reported to the Home Secretary that 'A TERRORIST ATTACK IS A STRONG POSSIBILITY'. However, at the peak of the utilisation in 2005, following the horrific terrorist attacks in London on the 7th July (717) the threat was raised to SEVERE, which meant that JTAC assessed the treat as: 'AN ATTACK IS HIGHLY UKELY'. It must be acknowledged that the concept of utilising exceptional, reconfigured and controversial counter terrorism stop and search powers in a largely conservative society that prides itself on its freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom to protest was always going to be a delicate balancing act for the UK Government, Police and Police Authorities. This professional doctorate is about that balancing act and ultimately why the Government and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) got it so badly wrong.
This professional doctorate makes a contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of stop and search by providing an insight into how the wider Policing Service managed and deployed those counter terrorism powers, whilst attempting to reassure the community. The problems encountered, when overlaying such controversial tactics and the importance of winning, gaining and maintaining the trust and confidence in those tactics from all communities. This professional doctorate has reviewed, examined and analysed past and present thinking and practices within the counter terrorism environment surrounding the use of counter terrorism stop and search powers, in particular the Metropolitan Police Service. The author of this professional doctorate is in a unique position as he is the Commanding Officer for the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Protective Security Command (S020) and was for four years the operational lead for Section 44. He remains the Senior National User (SNU) on terrorism stop and search and the MPS lead for the development and introduction of the new Section 47 A Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) legislation.

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