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John Perriment

Letter to Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Home Secretary

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Following my earlier letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, here's a letter I've now sent to the Home Secretary:-

Dear Mr Johnson,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Home Secretary to express my satisfaction at yesterday's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the current indiscriminate use by police of Stop and Search powers under Section 44 of the Counter Terrorism Act is illegal.

However, I am extremely disappointed to learn that the Government is planning an appeal against this ruling and intend to permit this controversial practice to continue in the meantime. You are aware that many groups, including both professional and amateur photographers, are routinely harassed whilst going about their lawful business by police offers. This is a particular problem in the Metropolitan Police district where there is a rolling authorisation by your department for the police to conduct Stop and Searches under Section 44 without the requirement of reasonable grounds for suspicion.

This situation is unacceptable and I ask you please to reverse this policy immediately. Not only is it in violation of our traditions of freedom and liberty but Stop and Search has failed to result in one single prosecution for terrorist offences. As such it is a complete waste of police time and resources. Much worse, however, is the damage that it is doing to the credibility of the police. Traditionally, they have policed with the consent of the British public. That consent is in danger of being withdrawn, with the police losing the trust of the community. I am surprised that you have so far failed to appreciate the serious damage that this policy is doing.

I have expanded upon this issue in a letter sent today to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, a copy of which I enclose for your information.

May I please emphasize, as I pointed out to Sir Paul, that this state of affairs is actually playing into the terrorist's hands and could ultimately help them obtain some of their objectives. We must not let this happen, we must stand firm and protect our freedom, united rather than divided. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and will lose both.”

I implore you, please, to stop this madness before it is too late but I can appreciate the political difficulties that you may face. However, I am sure that once you have been convinced by my argument you will have the courage to do what is right. I am more than willing to meet you to discuss this issue in greater depth; in the meantime I look forward to your reply with interest.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours sincerely,

John Perriment

I can but try!

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  1. Henk's Avatar
    Excellent letter John, I wish I could write like you do - even in my native language!

    Let's hope someone listens.

  2. John Perriment's Avatar
    So it was worth checking my blog, Henk?
  3. Bear's Avatar
    Nice letter John - any evidence that Johnson can actually read ? Interesting article in the Independent today about how the government is dealing with a previous ECHR ruling about the illegality of retaining the DNA of innocent people on the DNA database. The ruling is that DNA from innocent people must be deleted. Johnson has instructed police forces to do it very slowly. Just 377 profiles deleted last year. At this rate it will take 2500 years or so to delete the 1 million + illegally held profiles ! Something about letter/spirit of the law comes to mind. All this against a background that the DNA is practically useless in the fight against crime. ACPO admits that DNA evidence is used successfully in 1 in every 150
    SOLVED crimes ! Mind you that makes it about 7 times more useful than CCTV - makes you wonder why all the money is spent on these pointless measures, unless fighting crime isn't really the point ! Anyway, to climb down from my soapbox awhile - in the context of the Home Office response to the earlier ECHR ruling, I wouldn't expect much to change in the way Section 44 is misused.
  4. John Perriment's Avatar
    Don't worry Bear, my expectations are not too high. But then again, in 1940 it looked certain that we would be overwhelmed by Hitler's hoardes. You don't win by giving up when the chips are down - you resolve to struggle even harder. I've just emailed another article on the subject to Amateur Photographer (which I know you don't read ) in an effort to mobilize other photographers and I'm posting on other forums (yes, there are others ). The next challenge will be to win the support of the general public.

    I won't quote Churchill's "We will fight them on the beaches" and all that. "Fight" is too strong a word, this is a democracy after all and we are going to make sure it stays that way. But if needs be I am sure enough of us will step forward to challenge and educate them on the streets of London!