Labour’s Authoritarian state being rolled back

The last Labour Government took away a lot of the rights and freedoms of the individual under the guise of anti-terror legislation. The need or not for this was in part due to the widely perceived illegal, immoral and unustified invasion of Iraq on a trumpt up allegation. A war that cost the lives of 100s of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq, destroyed the futures of many British families and cost billions of pounds.

Now bit by bit Labours authoritarian straightjacket is being dismantled. Good News for us all.

This Government has ended the political games played by the last Government over national security. The results of today’s review are a major victory for those who have campaigned for so long against the deluge of authoritarian legislation passed by Labour. This Government has created a package of counter terrorism and security powers which both protects our citizens and restores our freedoms.

Key outcomes of Counter Terrorism and Security Review

·         Pre-charge detention of terror suspects has been reduced from 28 days to 14 days. It can only be increased again subject to a bill voted on a passed by both Houses of Parliament.

·         An end to stop and search with out suspicion (Section 44). In future the police will only be allowed to stop and search vehicles without suspicion if a senior police officer reasonably suspects that an imminent act of terrorism will take place in a specific location. Legislation will ensure these powers may only last as long as is absolutely necessary (and no longer than 14 days) and only cover a geographical area as wide as is necessary to address this threat.

·         The Government will produce new guidance to ensure that police powers are not used to inappropriately prevent the public taking photographs. The abolition of section 44 will further ensure that CT laws are not unfairly used against photographers.

·         The Regulation of Investigatory Powers and Local Authorities Act (RIPA) will be reformed to ensure councils can no use longer covert investigation powers for minor misdemeanours (e.g. dog fouling or checking an individual lives in a school catchment area). In future Local Authorities will only be allowed to use RIPA powers if approved by a magistrate and if the offence they are investigating carries a custodial sentence of more than 6 months – with the exception of investigations into the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors.

·         Communications data (the who, where and when of communications) will be protected by ensuring that as far as possible this can only be accessed through the revised RIPA framework.

·         The freedom of expression of groups will be maintained, though the Government will continue to be vigilant in prosecuting those who break the Religious and Racial Hatred Act.

·         The Government will continue to deport foreign nationals engaged in terrorism consistent with the UK’s obligations on Human Rights. The Government will continue to seek verifiable assurances from countries who receive these individuals that they will receive safe treatment upon their return.

·         Control Orders will be abolished and current legislation will be repealed putting an end to virtual house arrest. In their place new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures will be legislated for. These measures will facilitate the investigation of (and where necessary disrupt) terrorist plotting with a continuing priority to bring an individual into the criminal justice system through prosecution. These measures will end Labour’s policy of circumnavigating the criminal justice system and instead warehousing individuals on Control Orders. Investigation and a desire to prosecute will form a central part of this new system.


These new measures will:


·         Abolish curfews and forced relocation and instead create a flexible overnight residence requirement.

·         Place only limited restrictions on communication and association and allow continued access to phones and the internet. 

·         Allow only tightly defined exclusions from particular areas and the prevention of travel overseas as well as placing limited restrictions on financial transactions overseas.


Unless in exceptional circumstances where it could facilitate or increase the risk of involvement in terrorist related activity, those subject to these measures will be free to work and study. The aims of these measures as a whole are to allow an individual to live as normal a life as possible. An individual will only be subject to as many of the measures listed as a high court judge deems strictly necessary.


The measures will only be used for a maximum of two years and where the Home Secretary can convince a High Court judge that she has reasonable belief that an individual is engaged in terrorism related activity. Alongside this; the police will have a strengthened legal duty to ensure that the individual’s behaviour is kept under continual review with a view to bringing a prosecution.


Exceptional emergency measures will also be drawn up which would create powers additional to those outlined above. These measures however could only be brought into force following full parliamentary approval.


Ken Macdonald’s (the independent overseer of the review) key conclusions


I conclude that there is no doubt that the Review’s recommendations, if implemented, would  achieve the government’s primary aim of rolling back State power, where to do so would not present a disproportionate risk to public safety.

The reduction in pre?charge detention to 14 days, the repeal of section 44, the greater regulation of local authority surveillance and the outright removal of those aspects of control orders that most resemble house arrest, are all to be regarded as reforms of real significance. They point to an unmistakable re?balancing of public policy in favour of liberty.

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