Tom Brake writes to David Cameron on control orders‏

Tom Brake MP wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday, to push for the scrapping of Control Orders, and for a reduction in the pre-charge detention period. The letter is co-signed by the other Liberal Democrat Co-Chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Parliamentary Party Committee: Baroness Sally Hamwee and Lord Martin Thomas.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

We believe we represent the broad view of the Liberal Democrat membership, both from past policy statements agreed at Conference and set out in the Lib Dem Manifesto, and from current soundings within the Party.

We have been delighted by the Coalition Government’s commitment to re-claiming our civil liberties. You will appreciate of course, that the continuance of Control Orders is quite inconsistent with the thrust of those assurances. In principle, as we argued many times during the administration of the last government, Control Orders should be scrapped.

In practice, in any event, there is no evidence to suggest that Control Orders are effective in preventing terrorism on our streets. Even if a marginal security advantage is gained from their use, it is wholly negated by the adverse impact of Control Orders on Muslims, both individually, and as a community. You will know that we depend on the goodwill of the widest possible cross-section of that community to ensure that the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy is effective.

It is our view that a package of counter-terrorism measures – which would be much more effective and have lesser impact on civil liberties – could and should be constructed: the withdrawal of travel rights; more surveillance; unannounced home visits; where appropriate the use of intercept evidence to bring cases to the level where effective prosecution may be carried out through the courts. Other safeguards can no doubt be discussed and developed.

As for pre-charge detention, we are convinced (as is the stated view of the Home Secretary) that 28 days pre-charge detention should be reduced to 14 days.

We believe a maximum of 14 days pre-charge detention gives wholly adequate time to bring charges, even in the most complicated cases of multiple attack. We will regretfully advise opposition to the introduction of draconian bail conditions, which would seek to impose restrictions equivalent to Control Orders as they currently exist.

We look forward to your response on these issues.

Yours sincerely

Tom Brake MP, Baroness Sally Hamwee, Lord Martin Thomas

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  • This is a good letter from Tom Brake and his parliamentary colleagues which makes an excellent point about the counterproductive effect of much counter terrorist legislation. But we can’t leave it all up to parliamentarians to be putting pressure on the coalition leadership. If you agree that control orders are illiberal, ineffective and an affront to the rule of law, please join the Facebook cause I’ve set up here:

    And if you want to find out more about the effect of control orders, how they have worked in practice and more detail about why we need to get rid of them now, have a read of the response to the review of the counter terrorism legislation by Liberty which is here:

  • Lib Dems need to be pressing very hard on the civil liberties agenda now. It’s quite likely that at some point in the future Cameron will find it politically expedient to move into that authoritarian space that Labour appear to be vacating and which much of his party feels naturally at home in. Lib Dem influence will wane over the course of this parliament. There is a limited time to push this agenda through.

  • You say that there is no evidence that control orders have worked. But there is no evidence that that they have not worked either. You are not being objective about this at all. How can there be any evidence that a person has been prevented from committing a crime because of the Contol order?

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