UK Liberty

Another potential terrorist foiled

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on October 31, 2008


A schoolboy taking photographs of a railway station on a geography field trip was suspected of being a terrorist.

Fabian Sabbara, 15, of Cheam, was dressed in his school uniform when he was stopped by three police community support officers for taking photos of Wimbledon station on his mobile phone.

The student from Rutlish High School, Merton, explained he was taking pedestrian counts, a traffic survey and photos as part of a GCSE project.

But PCSO Barry Reeve told Fabian to sign forms under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search at random anyone they suspect of terrorism.

That’s not entirely accurate – in fact it allows an area to be designated as a stop and search area and anyone in that area can be stopped and searched without the requirement of reasonable suspicion.

Metropolitan Police spokesman Beverley Kassem said officers did not search him and no further action was taken.

Hmm… it’s my understanding of the Act (s45) that the power “may be exercised only for the purpose of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism” – in other words you can’t just stop people with that particular power, you have to search them too.  There is a power where an officer can stop and ask someone to account for themselves, under other legislation.

Anyway, that’s all just details isn’t it?  Because if the police hadn’t stopped Mr Sabbara, and he had turned out to be a terrorist, thousands of people could have died.

Thank god the PCSOs were prepared to put their lives at risk by stopping him.  Thank god our Beloved Leaders pushed this legislation through Parliament.  Thank god that “schools and police will work closely on future school trips in the area”.


One Response

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  1. Watching Them, Watching Us said, on October 31, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Unless there is a real, sworn Police Constable In Uniform physically present supervising them, then the Police Community Support Officers have no power whatsoever under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    As you point out, the powers under section 44 are for stops and searches only, not for demanding “name and address” identification or “intelligence gathering” purposes.

    Names and addresses can be demanded by the police if they have reasonable suspicion of something, but then they have to use something other than section 44.

    What use are any section 44 stops and searches, if there is not a proper checkpoint, with armed police and a bomb disposal squad around the corner ?

    What exactly are unarmed police constables or PCSOs actually meant to do if they do somehow stumble upon a real terrorist ? Run away ? Beg for mercy ?

    N.B. despite the tens of thousands of such s44 stops and searches, not a single terrorist has been caught red handed as a result.

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