New terror laws could be less effective, warns watchdog

Policeman with gun The government replaced control orders with the new regime of T-Pims this year

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The new system for restricting terror suspects could prove less effective than control orders, the independent reviewer of terror laws has said.

David Anderson QC warned the new two-year limit on Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (T-Pims) could "strengthen the resolve" of terrorists.

They may have compromised under previous longer restrictions, he said.

His comments came in a parliamentary report on control orders. The Home Office said it was considering them.

Mr Anderson said the two-year limit on T-Pims - unless new evidence emerges - could encourage some hardened terror suspects to try to wait out the period before resuming their activity.

He warned: "The ability to maintain restrictions for more than two years was of obvious utility in the case of a person who could still not be prosecuted or deported... and had not been de-radicalised."

The longest time someone was under a control order was almost five years.

'Untested evidence'

Control orders were the Labour government's controversial answer to targeting suspected terrorists believed to be dangerous when there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. They lasted for six years from 2005.

Fifty-two people were subject to them, almost half British nationals.

Under control orders, a person's movements and communications were severely restricted by bans, curfews and surveillance.

They cost around £17m - a figure that does not include secret details of the significant cost of surveillance by MI5 and the police.

In his final review of control orders, Mr Anderson said he had good reason to believe they fulfilled their primary functions of disrupting terrorist activity.

But he added they relied heavily on "untested evidence", and there was a "troubling feeling" of imposing orders on some people who had already been acquitted of terrorism offences.

'Just keeping an eye'

Under the new laws introduced earlier this year, there are fewer controls but greater police scrutiny of suspects.

One of the key elements of control orders - forcibly relocating suspects - has not been continued under T-Pims and was a principle part of the coalition government's reform.

Mr Anderson said relocation was "undoubtedly effective" in some cases, and its advantages were not easily replicated.

Start Quote

The primary role of any government is to keep its citizens safe and free”

End Quote Ken Clarke Justice Secretary

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Anderson acknowledged the coalition was seeking to address this: "I don't criticise the government... What they've done to try and diminish the difference, if you like, is to allocate more money to surveillance.

"Of course they are not complete substitutes. When you relocate someone you actually disrupt them, whereas when you place them under surveillance you're really just keeping an eye on them."

It is believed more than 100 extra officers were recruited in a bid to increase police security under the new regime.

'Safe and free'

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are grateful to David Anderson for his considered report and we are currently considering the recommendations with other relevant agencies.

"T-Pims provide effective powers to deal with the risks posed by individuals we can neither prosecute nor deport, and we have made available substantial extra funding for covert surveillance and investigation."

Civil liberty campaign groups expressed frustration with Mr Anderson's report.

Sophie Farthing of Liberty said: "The reviewer's labelling of T-Pims as 'less effective' than control orders is baffling - the two are fundamentally the same, both operating outside the criminal justice system.

"Rebranding exercises and minor tweaks don't change the fact that these punitive measures are as unfair as they are unsafe.

"If these people are dangerous, why not prosecute them?"

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke recently wrote: "The primary role of any government is to keep its citizens safe and free.

"That means both protecting them from harm and protecting their hard-won liberties."

Not ready to cope

In assessing the overall threat to the UK's national security since the change, Mr Anderson quotes the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, who said "there should be no substantial increase in overall risk".

In the months before the change from control orders to T-Pims at the end of last year, the BBC was told of concerns among some senior counter-terror officers that they were not ready to cope with the extra demands of the new system.

The Home Office briefly delayed the transition in January.

Nine men - all British - were subject to the new measures when they were introduced at the beginning of the year.

The government has published draft proposals for "enhanced T-Pims", which are more restrictive. But they would only be used in extreme circumstances.

Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is in charge of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, told Parliament she thought only a credible report of "concurrent attacks" would justify using the enhanced powers.


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  • Comment number 22.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Fear of miscarriage of justice restricts the methods of confronting terrorism. But the world has changed, we are in the internet age, and lunatics have freedom to find out how to create terror, and the terrorists are mounting war against defenceless populations. An iron fist is necessary. Too much freedom is being exploited by some as a licence to kill. Perhaps our freedom needs to be compromised?

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    @4 Violet

    Even if someone in power were to consider your insane suggestion (and I very much hope thye wouldn't), the death penalty no longer applied in this counrty, even for treason, and hasn't done so for many years now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Deportation? Some or all of the people are British
    Death Penalty? If there isn't enough admissible evidence to convict under current laws then this seems very unrealistic - anyway, the death penalty has been abolished and is unlikely to be reintroduced.

    I also feel very uncomfortable when justice decisions are to be based on costs - lynch mob mentality?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    And yet these sort of laws and procedures have been common place in Northern Ireland for the last 30 - 40 years. No-one else in the UK complained about them so why now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Lets be honest with ourselfs, we are a joke and the terrorist know it. We bend over backwards to acommodate these "peoples" human rights even knowing their evil intent towards our culture people and way of life. It is just a nightmarish bad joke. The rest of the world is laughting, in some places sneering, at the delusions of our "leaders" concerning these people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    "Fifty-two people were subject to them, almost half British nationals".

    So more than half were foreign nationals allowed to stay? I think that just about sums up our policy. If we enforced the borders here, maybe our troops wouldn't have to die in Afghanistan!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Innocent until proven guilty is how it used to be before Nu Liebour eroded our civil liberties by RIPA and DNA databases and a gazillion CCTV cameras.

    Its not right that people are hounded when there is not enough evidence they've done something wrong. I'd rather see smarter policement who can get the evidence than further erosion of civil liberties which are always misused by police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    More freedoms to be eroded in the name of the bogeyman. Those who seeks to impose their will on us are winning as our politicians are doing their work for them

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    It might help if we paid serious attention to stopping people becoming terrorists in the first place, rather than lavishing resources on the ones already there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Home grown or international, gone are the days when a defecting agent or passing satalite gives vital intel! Quite simply, you'd have to infiltrate hundreds of organisations that could harbor radicals bent on killing & maiming, but then what do you do about the lone wolf? Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer......

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Why don't we sort out our own less than fragrant residents, like the monster who threw acid at a mother with her baby just because he didn't like he skin colour, before we start chasing every supposed terrorist in a US-style frenzy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    #6 You do realise that these people are just SUSPECTED of planning terror attacks? There isn't enough evidence even to arrest them, much less hang them.

    My grandparents have a photo of me (aged 10) posing in front of the gates of Downing Street. These days taking that pic would break 'anti-terror laws' as would waving a banner in Parliament square. The definition is far too broad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Human Rights laws, were to stop the sort of things that happened in WW2 ever happening again. They should stay.

    Terrorism is a major risk to Human Rights in Europe, and to that point the European Courts should be using their power against the terrorists.

    It would also help if terror suspects stopped getting paid such large amounts of compensation. They should be picking up a bill not a cheque

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    scotland needs independence now, only an independent scotland can stop this police state in the making.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    #5 PeterSym
    Perhaps you are right about treason, though at the root of my thinking is the need to prevent people who are prepared to carry out indiscriminate murder from having the freedom to carry on. Terrorism has become a world cancer, deployed by those who cannot succeed through reason. As I said, perhaps the death penalty needs to available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    #4 Actually in Britain 'treason' has a very specific anti-monarchy wording so unless these guys are trying to blow the queen up, not it isn't.

    In addition one mans terrorism is another's freedom fighting. Nelson Mandela planted bombs & was trained in guerilla warfare by the KGB. The South Africans didn't hang him but you would? HE at least was convicted before sentence!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Isn't terrorism a form of treason against the country, perhaps we should be using the death penalty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    ....and it will be outrageously expensive and diverted short resources.

    Time we had some decisive action on curtailing the power of the European Court on these matters which are national security issues.


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