Review of counter-terrorism powers

Review of counter-terrorism powers

Yesterday Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament that a rapid review of key counter-terrorism and security powers is underway. The review, a commitment in the coalition agreement, published on 20 May 2010, will look at what counter-terrorism powers and measures could be rolled back in order to restore the balance of civil liberties and counter-terrorism powersand, in so doing, restore the ancient civil liberties that should be synonymous with the name of our country.”

She said: “The review will consider six key powers: control orders; section 44 stop-and-search powers and the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography; the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by local authorities and access to communications data more generally; extending the use of deportations with assurances in a manner that is consistent with our legal and human rights obligations; measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence; and the detention of terrorist suspects before charge.” She believes that these are the most controversial and sensitive powers. “In particular, the issue of pre-charge detention has been the subject of considerable debate in the House, and tomorrow we will consider whether to renew the current detention limit for a further six months.” That would provide sufficient time to look carefully at pre-charge detention and to explore how the period of detention below 28 days can be reduced. She added: “Personally, I was always in favour of 14 days, but the whole point of a review is to look at what the appropriate period should be, and I do not wish to pre-empt the review’s decision or the information with which it will come forward.”

The review will be conducted by the Home Office with the full involvement of the police, security and intelligence agencies and other Government Departments, including those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and with oversight from Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions. The proposals made by Lord Carlile, in his statutory role as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, will be fully considered as part of the review. The Home Secretary concluded: “I want the review to be conducted as openly and transparently as possible. I have asked Liberty to contribute to the review, and it has said that it would be delighted to do so. I am keen to involve other civil liberty and community organisations and, as with other reviews, I would urge anyone with an interest to submit their views to the Home Office.” On timing, she said: “I have ordered that the review should be completed as quickly as possible, because it is important that the police and the security and intelligence agencies are able to do their vital work with certainty and confidence. I will report back to Parliament on the outcome of the review after the summer recess.”

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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