Friday, May 30, 2008

On the 25th May Nightjack did a very interesting blog concerning the powers of the police to 'stop and search'.
He referred to the 'suss law of 1824'

I have gone into this seriously because although I said I did not agree with 'stop and search' I needed to know just what is 'The suss law'.

This is what the suss law means:

In Britain, the sus law was the informal name for a stop-and -search law that permitted a police officer to act on suspicion or 'sus' alone.

It was based upon sections 4 and 6 of the Vagrancy act 1824 which made it 'illegal for a suspected person or reputed thief to frequent or loiter in a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence' and effectively permitted the police to stop and search and even arrest anyone they chose, purely on the basis of suspicion as a crime-prevention tactic.

The law caused much discontent among certain sections of the population and was abolished following riots in St. Pauls Bristol and in Brixton London and Toxteth Liverpool in 1981, because its alleged abuse was believed to be a contributory factor to these events.

Following Lord Scarman's enquiry into the the cause of the Brixtons riots.

The sus law was dropped.

Subsequent British legislation which makes provision for the police to act on the basis of suspicion alone has been denounced as 'another suss law' by opponents of proposals to grant British police 'stop and question' powers.

I would have serious doubts whether this law would work,I honestly think this law should not be brought back in purely because of any confusion over the word 'suspicion'.

What does that mean?

How do you define 'suspicious act'?

What would be the situation if a woman was stopped and searched?

Does that mean a body search or just pockets and handbags?
I would not take lightly to my personal belongings being empted into the streets with everyone watching and walking by, and knowing that members of the public will be thinking:
"What has she done?"

When I have 'done' nothing but walk down a street and an officer 'thinks' I look suspicious.

I have great reservations about this law.


dickiebo said...

I think you're a little off beat here, A. The sus law in London was Section 66 Metropoloitan Police Act (if I remember correctly). What constitutes 'suspicious person' is, or was, clearly defined in law, so it wasn't simply a matter of your face not fitting. The areas you mention were all heavily populated by black people, and most 'car' crimes at that time did indeed heavily involve black youths. Hence the seemingly disproportionate number of black people being stopped. Make no bones about it, all the furore about 'sus' was by these black youths being stopped!
As for you being searched by a male officer; the shortest 'A' Report in the Metropoltan Police Instruction Book read;"Females will be searched by females only". So - no chance. Sorry!!

Annette said...

Yes Dickiebo, your right about the most car crimes at that time involved black youths, but no black person could leave their homes wihtout being stopped by the police.
They were all tarred by the same brush so to speak.
Hence the riots.
What bothers me is that the same thing will happen again. (not just to black youths) but to any of us.
As for being searched by females only, well, damn, what a shame!!