The Guardian (print edition) reports that last year more than 1 million stop and searches under various legislation were performed by police in the UK. The number of s.44 stops under the Terrorism Act 2000 more than trebled, from 37,197 in 2006/7 to 117,278 in 2007/8. It is s.44 that is the basis for most stops and searches of photographers, enabling random search without reasonable suspicion of anyone within designated areas such as Greater London, where most of the increase arose.
Or not so random. "The number of black people stopped rose by 322% compared with an increase of 277% for Asian and 185% for white people" says the Guardian. The number of people stopped for taking photos or looking like they might is unreported, no doubt because the stops are supposed to be random and without cause. Nevertheless black and Asian photographers are likely suffering the brunt of this interference.
The Guardian quotes barrister Corrina Ferguson of Liberty "Only 6 in 10,000 people stopped were arrested for terrorism, let alone charged or convicted". She said the three-fold increase was a clear sign that the powers were being misused and had little to do with terrorism.
Guardian audio coverage is here.
For more information about the use of s.44 against photographers see our other articles. If you require advice about your rights and how to deal with being stopped and searched, or to file a monitoring report, go to Liberty.