An investigation by human rights group Liberty into the policing of peace demonstrations at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire has shown that anti-terrorism laws have been used to prevent citizens taking part in legitimate protests.

In particular, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 has been used to search peaceful protesters.

Here’s a short guide from Liberty:

Section 44 searches – Liberty Advice DURING SECTION 44 SEARCHES

The police can only give you a pat down, remove outer clothes (eg – jacket, hat) search your bags, and have you empty your pockets

You do not have to give your name or address

You do not have to explain why you are there

You are not allowed to flee the search, but you are not required to be actively compliant. You are allowed to “go limp” as passive resistance during the search if you do not wish to comply.

There is no permission to collect DNA data during the search

You do not have to comply with any attempt to photograph or record you.

Women can not be touched by male police during these searches.

Make notes about the officers searching you – name, number, and police force.

Note the time and the events preceding the search.

Note the specific wording used by the police to explain their authority to search you.

Ask police for the reason that they are searching you. Specifically, are they searching for terrorists or are they simply trying to deter, delay, or inconvenience you?

If you have a bad experience with police, you may want to make a formal complaint. Read our guide to making a police complaint

Section 44 legal info – Liberty UK