Written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on changes to stop and search powers.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson laid the following statement before Parliament:
Following the Counter Terrorism Legislation Review, the Home Secretary decided to replace section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with a more tightly circumscribed power. Consistent with those changes, I have decided to make a similar amendment to a power of stop and search in Northern Ireland.
I intend to amend the power to stop and search a person without reasonable suspicion contained in paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007. In future, prior authorisation by a senior police officer, confirmed by the Secretary of State, will be required before the power to search a person without reasonable suspicion to ascertain whether he has munitions unlawfully with him or wireless apparatus with him can be exercised by a police officer. I will also create a new power for police officers to search for such items with reasonable suspicion. In due course I will exercise the power in section 34 of the 2007 Act to make a Code of Practice governing the exercise of these powers.
Powers of stop and search for the military under the 2007 Act will not be amended.
Changes to the legislation will be brought forward in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which will be introduced into Parliament shortly. Robert Whalley, the Reviewer of the operation of these powers appointed under section 40 of the 2007 Act, is aware of the changes I plan to make.