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New draft code of practice for terrorism-related stop and search

The provisional changes made are aimed at tackling and preventing terrorism.

Under the draft revised code of practice, officers in England, Wales and Scotland will have a new stop and search power which enables them to search a terrorist offender who has been released on licence and not recalled.

The offender’s licence will need to include a search condition, and to carry out the search, the officer needs to be satisfied that it’s necessary to do so to protect the public from the risk of terrorism.

The licence condition being imposed will be conditional on the offender having been convicted of a terrorism or terrorism-connected offence and a risk assessment judging them to pose a high or very high risk of serious harm to the public.

The officer can carry out the search in any place where they lawfully have access, even if the public does not have access to it.

It comes following the recommendations made by Jonathan Hall QC in his 2020 review of MAPPA used to supervise terrorist and terrorism-risk offenders, a review commissioned by the Home Secretary following the terrorist attack at Fishmongers Hall in November 2019.

Within the review, Johnathan Hall recommended that “consideration is given to whether a power of personal search to look for weapons or harmful objects is required”.  

He said that if an offender knows they are likely to be searched, it may act as a deterrent but also that the current stop and search power is not designed for compliance or assurance searches.

There are other minor amendments to the code, which include a caveat under Section 43A (Stopping and Searching vehicles) that preparatory questioning may be unnecessary although a brief conversation or exchange would be desirable.

The draft revised code was laid before Parliament this week and will come into force after it has been approved by both Houses of  Parliament.

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