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Politicians urged to stop abuse of stop and search powers

15 April 2010

Conservative shadow home secretary Chris Grayling that he would end misuse by police of Section 44 stop and search powers. These powers are used to impede photographers working at demonstrations and other events.

Journalists are urging all political parties to give substance to the pledge.

Chris Grayling said:

"Conservatives will end the abuse of stop-and-search as part of a full review of all Labour's laws."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

"We must assume that this statement was more than political window-dressing, because police stop-and-search harassment of photographers at public events has become a serious issue of press freedom and civil liberties.
"This week our London Photographers and Central London Branches hosted a successful rally to draw attention to the impact of this harassment on the rights of journalists and all citizens.
"If Mr Grayling has got the message that this is unacceptable, then we hope he will spell out his plans in a clear commitment to post-election action. And the other parties should do likewise, because press freedom and civil liberties should not be a party political matter. This is something that could really be addressed on a cross-party basis.
"However, I note that the Conservatives are saying that police have misused counter-terror powers 'to target innocent tourists and bystanders'. Professional photographers and other journalists attending demonstrations are not 'bystanders', but I hope Mr Grayling does not therefore imply that use of counter-terror powers against them is acceptable."

Tags: , politics, press freedom, police, section 44, stop and search, conservative party, anti-terrorism laws, london central branch, london photographers' branch