Terror suspects no longer to be detained without trial in UK

In the entry House of Lords upholds Human Rights Act on December 17 2004, there was some heated discussion in the comments with the few select regular commenters here. I feel somewhat vindicated by today’s article in the Independent, headed Clarke ends terror suspects’ detention without trial. Incidentally, the powers to detain applied only with regard to foreigners.

However, it’s not going to be a tea-party for the ex-detainees:

bq. The Home Secretary Charles Clarke is to introduce “control orders” to curb the activities of suspected terrorists who, for various reasons, cannot be prosecuted, he told MPs.

bq. This would replace detention powers under the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act, 2001, which the Law Lords had ruled were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

bq. He conceded that his plan would be “contentious” in that the new scheme would not include detention in prison, but would include a range of controls restricting movement and association, curfews and/or tagging and in some cases a requirement to remain at their premises.

The announcement was accompanied by the usual remarks about terrorism and how effective the powers have been.

8 thoughts on “Terror suspects no longer to be detained without trial in UK

  1. This was reported in yesterday’s BBC news website as “house arrest” options for the Home Secretary. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but somehow I associate the notion of house arrest with brutal police states, not parliamentary democracies. If the UK is moving towards such a police state where the old-established rights of its inhabitants are being curtailed “to protect freedom”, then the terrorists will surely have succeeded in at least one of their objectives. But I suppose anything can now happen in a country where somebody can be prosecuted just for holding an apple while driving…

  2. Yes, it isn’t too good, is it. (I suppose in Germany you might be prosecuted for *not* holding an apple while driving)

    More links (UK Criminal Justice Weblog, including the British press, critical of the announcement: http://www.ukcjweblog.org.uk/2005/01/27 .html

    Btw, what do you mean – prosecuted for holding an apple while driving? She wasn’t technically prosecuted, but the policeman issued a fixed penalty notice because he thought she had a mobile phone in her hand. You don’t want to suggest, I hope, that mistakes are a prerogative of the British?

  3. Well as I understand it, when the cops found out that it wasn’t a mobile, they still decided to issue the penalty notice (“driving a motor vehicle while being in possession of a potentially dangerous fruit”???). She appealed the penalty and lost. The point is surely that this could lead to people being prosecuted for more or less anything that the police want to invent. Driving with screaming infants in the back? Driving while in possession of a foreign language? Being in possession of a vehicle that might potentially be stolen within the next 14 days?

    It seems to me that the police now have it too easy in the UK (“A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state”), a suspicion that’s borne out by other first-hand tales I’ve been hearing recently. Even the immigration officers have evidently been on training courses run by former East German border guards, to judge by the surly and suspicious – even hostile – questioning you get nowadays (“How long have you lived abroad? What exactly do you do? What is the purpose of your visit to the UK? and so on. I’m a British Citizen with the right of abode in the UK, for chrissakes!).

    Robin

  4. Ah, I was ill informed. I didn’t realize the policeman prosecuted her after he found it was an apple. That was a mistake, I think.
    She was apparently prosecuted for not being in full control of her vehicle. That seems a fair enough reason to prosecute, even if this particular case perhaps falls down on the facts.

  5. The UK Home Secretary will have to pin back his prominent ears even further. A proper human rights balance has not been struck between national security and personal freedom of movement and association.

    There also seems to be a Race Relations Act issue over non-Brits. It is only a question of time before these draconian controls are challenged in court.

    Glad to see the GDR’s Grepo & Vopo are back in action. The Grenzpolizei at Friedrichstraße once detained me an hour for exporting a 5 Ostmark coin back into the country and photocopied my address book. They obviously didn’t want their own currency.

  6. The Grepos and Vopos never stopped (although I was actually referring to UK immigration). Before my son turned 16, so probably in 1997, an Ossi Grenzer at Frankfurt airport almost had him arrested because he didn’t have an Aufenthaltserlaubis. When my son – supported by a Wessi Grenzer – explained that he didn’t actually have to have one, the Ossi Grenzer apparently went ballistic about the country being overrun by fremdvölkische Teenager. Old habits die hard, I suppose…

    But I still don’t understand why UK immigration officials think they have to be hostile to British citizens. Or do all civil servants now have to graduate from the traffic warden school of manners?

  7. The Ossigrenzer was obviously still mindful of the GDR’s pre-1990 Staatsverfassung and not the Federal Republic’s Grundgesetz. Otherwise, he should have arrested himself for his anti-foreigner outburst.

    I know what you mean about UK immigration officers. One is an ex trans. agency colleague of mine. I’ve heard about these hassles of UK nationals or ‘patrials’ being perpetrated only by officials who appear to be of non-white backgrounds and whom I strongly suspect are ‘getting their own backs’ on British ex-colonial intruders and upstarts. Can anyone tell me otherwise?

  8. To be perfectly honest, that was something I didn’t want to mention, it (i.e. mentioning it) being the sort of thing that probably gets you arrested nowadays. In fact, until you talked about it, I didn’t make any connection. I’m still not sure about it, though, and I’m loathe to join up too many dots on a hunch.

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