Police restrict use of anti-terror law

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Britain's biggest police force is reducing its use of the anti-terrorism powers that allow officers to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion.

The Metropolitan Police is changing its policy on when Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 can be employed, after criticism that over-use of the legislation was alienating ethnic minorities. Use of the powers will be restricted to policing strategically important sites, such as Buckingham Palace and Parliament, and to specific operations authorised by senior officers.

In other cases officers will use Section 43, which requires them to have reasonable suspicion that the person they are stopping and searching is a terrorist. The Met increased its use of Section 44 after the attempted car bomb attacks on a nightclub in the West End of London and Glasgow Airport in 2007. Since October 2007 the force has carried out 154,293 stop and searches under the powers.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates said in a report to the Metropolitan Police Authority: "The power is seen as controversial and has the potential to have a negative impact, particularly on minority communities."