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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    "Islamic terrorism is a global phenomenon..We need an alliance like the one against fascism because we're dealing with something which is potentially more dangerous than we faced in the 1930's"

    Who in this 'alliance' will be the judge & jury, deciding who the terrorists are & when to bomb/assassinate them? The US already kills individuals around the world indescriminately. Are we safer for it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    The real problem is the education system in the Middle East and the way it teaches children to demonise non-Muslims. These textbooks have been shown on a Panorama programme recently and in all honesty are not too disimilar to those given to Nazi children in the 1930s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Much of the problem is that our communications are now heavily monitored. ISPs are legally obliged to share data with law enforcement agencies and social sites are constantly scoured. A single comment on Facebook or in an email can flag you up as a potential threat. In other words, in this twisted world we now live in, everyone is a possible terrorist. No wonder the security services can't cope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    If there is objective and concrete independent evidence of terrorist activity. Prosecute and deport.

    If the country the convicted are to be deported to has a record of human rights abuse (torture) then sobeit.

    It was the terrorist choice to take this path and should suffer the consequences.

    It is "torture" for a mother to lose a husband, son or daughter on a London bus / tube being blown up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    When it comes to foreigners coming to the UK and in some cases living here our politicians are idiots. It is claimed there are 200,000 Russians in the UK and none of them are doing the UK any good.This is true of many ethnic groups. Immigration is costing this country billions of £s. The NHS is a free health service for the world as is our benefit system. Time to sort out the problem I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    "1984 was not an instruction manual"

    That's exactly what it was turned into, starting with the Rockefellers and banksters of the US. To see how blindly people in the US just accept toddlers and 90-year-old grannies being manhandled by airport security staff is astonishing. If you try and tell them their govt is wrong, you will be branded a terrorist sympathiser or a conspiracy nut. 1984 is here.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    why don't those kind hearted souls at liberty take them in, they can pay for their benefits as well, those left wing nut jobs worry more than the mad mullahs

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    No no, if security services have 'intelligence' pointing to a person being likely to commit a violent act, that 'intelligence' should be regarded as 'evidence'. If such 'intelligence' is not concrete enough to be admitted as evidence in a trial, it is not concrete enough to impose control orders. Change the law so that intentional communication with known terrorists is an offence then charge them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Well at least May's got her finger on the pulse as usual - I think shes accepting "tenders" from the private sector for 'guarding' the English/Scottish border.
    Didn't realise how much money we've got - or that if independence is declared we're going to be invaded by kilt wearing bombers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    1984 was not an instruction manual !

    Wake up you fools

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Our failed immigration laws has partly caused the mess that the uk is in. That alongside the sham that is called Overseas student visa's

    and as for the comment about Lierty...

    Shami Chakrabarti's and Liberty poses the biggest Terror issue to the UK. She does not deserve to have a British passport as has no interest in doing what is best for the UK citizens

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    #89 I agree 110% with your first paragraph but your 2nd is too idealistic. There's always a handful of extremists who won't accept any compromise. We negotiated peace with the IRA but nothing short of a united Ireland will appease the 20-30 'Real IRA'. If you DID give them that you'd have 1000+ protestant terrorists bombing us instead!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    It still comes down to building a strong enough case to bring a suspect to trial.
    Preventive detention, internment or whatever you want to call it, does not stand up to legal scrutiny.
    Terrorism is criminal acts committed in pursuance of political grievances.

    Deal with the politics and the terrorism ends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    "As for the law being formulated to criminalise tourists - this is your fantasy"

    Try going to Canary Wharf with a camera and taking photos of all the lovely big buildings and see how long it takes before you're confronted by 'security'. Try taking photos of the buildings around Wall Street or the bridges across Manhattan and see how long it takes for the police to pounce and confiscate your film.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    For all those still labouring under the misapprehension that Islamic Terrorism is ethically driven:

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    #84 So what you're basically saying is that you support life imprisonment with no trial before hand solely on the basis of suspicion? Clearly you're very certain that you'll never be on the wrong end of this law (and before you think.. well of course not, I'm not muslim, google Birmingham 6)

    If you want to effectively deal with terrorists, obtain evidence, charge them, try then THEN jail them

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I do think that we underestimate the threat from eco-terrorism, these new measures are ill equipped to deal with the substantial minority of greens who hate humanity & openly talk of engineering a virus to cull our “plague species”.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    How to EFFECTIVELY restict the movements of terror suspects:-
    lock them up in solitary and then weld up the cell door.

    Too often do we hear or read of terror suspects who committed or encouraged attrocities because they were allowed to roam free. The Human Rights law is being missused by lawyers - if their client later commits a terrorist offence I would put the lawyer in with his client.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Have the police and courts actually used existing terror laws against the people it was intended. They certainly have against old men in conferences, geeks at home saying stupid things on social websites, business men selling products abroad, me with my camera in a public place.

    But your actual terrorist - have they ever been processed by the law?


Page 4 of 9


More UK stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.