UK Liberty

National Security Strategy

Posted in detention without charge, law and order, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on March 19, 2008

Oh joy:

New powers to tackle terrorism and secure successful prosecutions, including control orders, extended stop and search powers, new offences of acts preparatory, encouraging and glorifying terrorism, and training for terrorism; extended pre-charge detention; and extended proscription of terrorist organisations.

On the other hand:

we are also determined to maintain the balance of security and liberty, and above all to maintain normal life, whether at airports, on the train or underground networks, or in our communities.

There’s that word ‘balance’ again:

Our approach to national security is clearly grounded in a set of core values. They include human rights, the rule of law, legitimate and accountable government, justice, freedom, tolerance, and opportunity for all. Those values define who we are and what we do. They form the basis of our security, as well as our well-being and our prosperity. We will protect and respect them at home, and we will promote them consistently in our foreign policy. At home, our belief in liberty means that new laws to deal with the changing terrorist threat will be balanced with the protection of civil liberties and strong parliamentary and judicial oversight.

And what are we supposed to do about threat levels?

Since August 2006 we have published the terrorist threat level, based on a new and more transparent assessment system. The threat has remained at the second-highest level, ‘severe’, except for two short periods during August 2006 and June and July 2007, when it was raised to the highest level, ‘critical’.

Update

I’m trying to understand that first quote:

New powers to tackle terrorism and secure successful prosecutions, including control orders, extended stop and search powers, new offences of acts preparatory, encouraging and glorifying terrorism, and training for terrorism; extended pre-charge detention; and extended proscription of terrorist organisations.

We already have control order legislation, in the form of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 – I can’t tell from the Strategy document what will be added to that.

We already have offences of acts preparatory to, and encouraging and glorifying terrorism, and training for terrorism, in the Terrorism Act 2006 – again I can’t tell what will be added.

Incidentally, the Terrorism Bill 2006 (as it was) resulted in the first defeat for Tony Blair’s Government on the floor of the Commons, and apparently “the worst such defeat for any government since 1978”, when the House divided on the matter of extending detention without charge (see Public Whip).

So, it was the Terrorism Act 2006 that extended the pre-charge detention to 28 days, after an apparent ‘Dutch Auction’ where the 90 day clause had to be defeated first, with the 28 day amendment sadly being passed (60 days was waiting in the wings), but many moons ago it was the Terrorism Act 2000 that increased the period one could be held without charge to 7 – yes, seven days. We had tons more terrorism then, didn’t we?

I’ve discussed extending detention without charge (I dislike “pre-charge detention”, it looks a bit like UnSpeak) in other articles – outside the Government there is a consensus on it, and happily the consensus is that the Government is wrong.

I hope that there won’t be any extension of the period – but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was. I suspect Tony Blair’s Government wasn’t displeased with the result, as they looked weally weally tough on terror (and made all opponents look like they supported suicide bombings) and I suspect Gordon’s Government will be equally satisfied, say with 35 days, even though they claim to want 42 days.

And next session we’ll do it all over again!

Finally, regarding the proscription of terrorist organisations, again, what new powers are needed?

The Home Secretary may, under part II of the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by part II of the Terrorism Act 2006, proscribe an organisation (eg) if it is “concerned in terrorism”.

Oh, did I mention that the strategy involves ID cards?

Update

See also SpyBlog: National Security Strategy – bias, omissions, and weasel words.

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5 Responses

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  1. […] UK liberty blog quotes an interesting excerpt: New powers to tackle terrorism and secure successful prosecutions, including control orders, […]

  2. robert said, on March 19, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I quoted you in the inaugural post on my blog (here), but I can’t find where you got your first quote from. Can you reference please? It doesn’t appear to be in the full statement.

    Cheers
    robert

  3. ukliberty said, on March 19, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Robert, all the quotes were taken directly from the National Security Strategy PDF, it was remiss of me not to provide a link.

  4. Watching Them, Watching Us said, on March 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    The Home Secretary may, under part II of the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by part II of the Terrorism Act 2006, proscribe an organisation if it is “concerned in terrorism”.

    So why is the Taliban still not on the official List of Proscribed Terrorist Groups after all these years of fighting British military forces and terrorising Afghan civilians ?

  5. ukliberty said, on March 20, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Perhaps they don’t want to give it “the oxygen of publicity“!


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