Sus law

Sus law

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, in 1980, and in Brixton, London, and Toxteth, Liverpool, in 1981, because its alleged abuse was believed to be a contributory factor to these events. [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4854556.stm | work=BBC News | title= The legacy of the Brixton riots | date= 5 April 2006 | accessdate=2007-06-06 ] Following Lord Scarman's inquiry into the cause of the Brixton riots, the sus law was dropped.

2007 legislation

Subsequent British legislation which makes provision for the police to act on the basis of suspicion alone has been denounced as "another sus law" by opponents of proposals to grant British police "stop and question" powers: [cite web | url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article1847685.ece?token=null&offset=0 | work=The Times | title= Concerns voiced over new terror powers | date= 27 May 2007 | accessdate=2007-06-06 ]

Mr Hain said he wanted to see the details of the policy before making any judgement.

But he told BBC1’s Sunday AM: “We cannot have a reincarnation of the old ‘sus’ laws under which mostly black people, ethnic minorities, were literally stopped on sight and that created a really bad atmosphere and an erosion of civil liberties.”

In January 2008 David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative party, announced his plan that if elected, to return similar powers to the police. Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced in response that he would seek to remove the accountability for stop and searches. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7216815.stm BBC NEWS | Politics | Push for new stop and search laws ] ]

ee also

Reasonable Suspicion for a similar US stop-and-search standard.

References


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