Jo Shaw writes: Counter Terrorism and Security Review latest

The long awaited outcome of the review of counter-terrorism and security powers is to be announced this week. Already last week, the expected and widely trailed outcome was confirmed that the length of time for pre-charge detention has been halved from 28 to 14 days – this 28 day power will lapse on Tuesday. It now appears that Theresa May will announce the outcome of the review on Wednesday, after Cabinet presumably discusses the issue on Tuesday.

The most thorny issue for the Liberal Democrats is what will go and what will remain of the highly controversial Control Order regime. David Cameron memorably described this issue as “a f***ing car crash” last autumn. There have been different reports of the outcome coming from sources within the Home Office itself, from Lord Carlile – the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, from the independent overseer of the review Lord Ken Macdonald, and from other sources.

What appears to be a consensus is that the “house arrest” powers will go. Apart from that, it is hard to tell from the briefings, counter-briefings and counter-counter-briefings what is going to be announced. There may be a two-tier system of surveillance orders to deal with the different gradings of the terrorist suspects, dependant upon the level of threat they are believed to pose. It looks as if the restrictions on travel, use of mobile telephones, computers, the internet, association with others will be altered or will go. The powers to uproot subjects and require them to move sometimes hundreds of miles from their home will also apparently end.

The level of information which will be provided to suspects is also unclear. One of the most contentious aspects of the scheme is that subjects only have the vaguest idea of the case and evidence against them, and they do not have the opportunity to challenge the evidence in any meaningful way.

The review also covers the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Section 44 stop and search powers and the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography, extending the use of ‘Deportation with Assurances’, and measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence.

It is to be hoped that it has been possible to make progress all of these other areas, to restore the many lost protections of our rights and freedoms which are one of the most shameful left overs of the Labour government. Having said that, whatever the other measures are, it is control orders which will be the story. If the remaining scheme, whatever its name, does not lead to the end of the control orders, and to the bringing of terrorist suspects within the criminal justice system, then the debates and controversy will continue.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • Do LibDems realise that their MPs will be required to vote for the renewal of the current control orders next month? Do you also realise that the new system, once passed, will not require annual renewal?

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