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Loss of control?

In the counter-terrorism review announced on 25 January, the British government proposes replacing “control orders”, found by the courts to contravene human rights legislation, with a modified system.

This system will still allow electronic tagging, enforced overnight residence and restrictions on freedom of association and movement, including foreign travel bans. It will limit control orders, presently unlimited, to two years. But if it is possible to make a new order as soon as the existing one expires, this constraint would be largely illusory.

The orders will still be initiated by the home secretary – and the regime will continue outside the criminal justice system of charge and trial. Meanwhile the extension of the limit on pre-charge detention to 28 days has not been renewed, meaning the limit is now 14 days – still much too long.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which allowed anyone to be stopped and searched without there having to be any grounds for suspicion is to be modified, so that a senior police officer can only authorise this where “they have reason to suspect a terrorist attack will take place and searches are necessary to prevent it”.

David Polden is the News Editor of Peace News.