Tory home secretary Priti Patel wants to grab more powers for the state with a draconian terror bill.
The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill would strengthen the ability of spooks and cops to spy on people.
It would allow judges to lock people up for longer. And it would scrap the statutory deadline for an independent review of the “Prevent” strategy, a programme that largely targets Muslims.
The Bill would allow indefinite house arrest and monitoring of people without trial, including those suspected of “non-violent offences”.
Authorities would need less proof to use the existing Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims). There would no longer be a two-year maximum limit on their use.
Civil liberties campaigners have slammed the move as a return to the control orders used by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s Labour governments in the 2000s.
These were part of a raft of legislation brought in during the “War on Terror” to target Muslims and paint them as an “enemy within”.
Rosalind Comyn of the Liberty campaign group said, “Control orders allow people to be placed on indefinite house arrest without trial.
“This can happen based on suspicion rather than charges, evidence and proof.”
Cerie Bullivant, a spokesperson for the Cage detainee rights organisation, lived for two years under a control order from 2006.
He had to wear an electronic tag, observe a curfew and report daily to police, who could raid his home at any time.
“This right wing Tory government is rolling back the clock,” said Bullivant. “House arrest without evidence or due process destroys your life.
“You are left without any way to prove your innocence as your life is ripped to shreds.
“These horrific measures have no place in this society.”
The bill increases the maximum sentence from ten to 14 years for a number of terrorism offences, including being a member of a proscribed organisation.
The new legislation follows attacks at Fishmongers Hall in November 2019 and Streatham High Street in February of this year. Cops shot dead a man in the Streatham incident after he stabbed two people.
Rachel Logan of Amnesty International UK said, “It was never right to drastically curtail people’s liberty on the basis of secret, untested evidence using control orders or Tpims.
“Rushing this bill out while parliament is still operating under Covid-19 constraints suggests the government could be trying to minimise scrutiny for significant legal changes.”
More powers for cops, spooks and judges are not in the interests of ordinary people—the bill must be opposed.