I’ve been discussing whether or not the absconders escape due to human rights laws, the judiciary, help from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, or all of the above, or whether it’s a resourcing or performance problem.
The BBC linked to Lord Carlile’s report (211Kb PDF), published in February, which says that there have been three in the past year.
Here I reproduce that section verbatim – my only editing is the addition of more paragraphs, to improve readability.
In one case the person concerned was an inpatient in a locked ward in a psychiatric hospital. He disappeared via a ground floor window.
I am not in a position to comment on any responsibility of the hospital,which was aware of his status.
Given (i) the expense in manpower and money of round the clock physical surveillance, and (ii) the apparent medical condition, diagnosis and needs of the person concerned at the time, leaving him in the hands of the hospital was reasonable given the light conditions of the order (which primarily required him to report daily to the police).
However, this and other cases do commend constant reconsideration of the surveillance and observation needs of each controlee, given the risk that each might present to national security if uncontrolled.
Another disappeared immediately prior to the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the quashing of his control order by the High Court, and before a new order could be served.
When such circumstances may arise, in future there should be provision for this eventuality – in the sense that there should be the minimum delay between the quashing of the old and the service of the new order if that is the appropriate course in the case.
The police were ready to serve the new order as soon as they were allowed to under the terms of the judgment.
The third absconded in early January 2007. Soon after being served with a control order, he was believed to have entered a mosque. At this point he had not breached his control order.
There was no operational reason to enter the mosque and it would therefore have been inappropriate for police officers to do so. Unfortunately he disappeared, breaching his control obligations.
Whilst in this case it would have been inappropriate for the police to enter the mosque, it raises questions about how generally to approach sensitive issues such as presence in a mosque, church or other place of worship.
The straightforward approach would be to make it clear that if controlees are in breach of anything other than minor aspects of conditions, the police will pursue them wherever they are situated after allowing them a short time to emerge voluntarily.
Then of course there are the recent three who were discovered to have absconded after they failed to report in as required.
It seems to me that these are not good
excuses reasons for derogating from the Convention.
After the latest fiasco in which three terror suspects went on the run after breaching their control orders, the Home Secretary said yesterday that the Government would consider declaring that there was an emergency threat to the country, allowing it to opt out of human rights legislation, if all other options failed.
They have done this before, by the way, with Part 4 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act.
The Law Lords agreed there was a public emergency threatening the life of the nation, but didn’t agree that indefinitely detaining foreigners at Belmarsh was “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation”, which is what you need to show in order to derogate from Article 5 of the ECHR.
The Government hopes to reach agreement on plans to allow suspects to be questioned for some time after they have been charged. But Mr Reid is also considering letting the courts infer guilt in cases when a suspect keeps silent during questioning after charges have been brought – a move that will be far more controversial.
As I understood it, we can already do that – but I am not too sure. I will have to look that up.
The Government is to reject Tory demands for telephone tap evidence to made admissible in terrorist court cases.
The LibDems are also calling for that by the way. And organisations such as Liberty.
Mr Reid also wants the control order regime tightened to stop courts cutting the length of curfews from 18 hours to 14 hours or lower. He is appealing to the Lords in July in a number of cases where the courts have ruled that 18-hour curfews breach human rights.
Mr Reid said that if the Government lost it might suspend parts of the European Convention on Human Rights so that it could put suspects under conditions breaching human rights.
In other words, putting people under house arrest.
Now we get to why all this is a red herring.
A huge police search is under way for the three terror suspects on the run. Six of 17 people on control orders have now absconded.
Including LL, who absconded after his control order was quashed by the courts, before the authorities got round to serving him with a new one!
Scotland Yard named Lamine Adam, 26, his brother Ibra-him, 20, and Cerie Bullivant, 24, after they failed to report to police. The Adams’s brother, Anthony Garcia, 25, was jailed for life last month for his part in the “fertiliser bomb” plot.
Mr Bullivant is due to stand trial over claims that he breached his control order on thirteen occasions over the past ten months.
i.e. he had form!
Mr Reid said: “It is believed that these individuals wanted to travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. They are not considered at this time to represent a direct threat to the public in the UK.”
Why the hell aren’t we talking about what the monitoring company and authorities did or didn’t do when these individuals neglected to phone in / pop round?
Why are we instead immediately on the subject of locking people up without trial (again)?
Not Saussure has a good analysis.
According to the Independent, they co-ordinated their escape. I like this quote from Nick Clegg:
It is wildly inaccurate to claim that the three escapees were somehow helped by our respect for human rights.