UK police demand new powers to stop and search terror suspects
London: British police have asked the David Cameron-led coalition government to provide them with new and improved powers to stop and search terror suspects.
London Police have said that they need a boost to their counter-terrorism powers, which they worry are too weak.
The Guardian has learnt that senior officers have told the government that a new law is needed to better protect the public against attempted attacks on large numbers of people, and are hopeful they can win ministers' backing.
A previous law allowing counter-terrorism stops without suspicion, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, was scrapped this year by British Home Secretary Theresa May after European judges struck it down for breaching human rights.
But police, including the Metropolitan force, which leads the UK fight against terrorism, say they need a boost to their counter-terrorism powers.
They have asked for a law which would be much more limited than Section 44. It would be restricted to a specific period of time and to a limited geographic area or a specific place or event.
The new stop and search power would need primary legislation to become law and it is believed it could be introduced within months.
Police believe it will be needed to protect events such as the 2012 Olympics in London, state occasions such as trooping the colour, and major summits such as the G20 when they are held in the UK.
The issue of powers to fight terrorism that infringe on civil liberties is causing friction within the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. A review of counter-terrorism powers has already been delayed after a row over whether control orders should be retained.
Counter-terrorism officials believe the risk of attack from al Qaeda-inspired violent extremists is "severe".