Commission statement on counter-terror review

26 January 2011

In response to the Government's proposals in its review of counter-terror and security powers, John Wadham, Group Director Legal, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“Departure from the principles of our civil liberties and human rights, which have been in place for hundreds of years, should only happen in exceptional circumstances. We recognise the duty on government to protect public safety and the need for it to have specific measures in place to do this. We welcome how seriously the government has taken this review and the move towards a better balance between protecting the public and protecting their rights.”

14 day detention

"Reducing detention to 14 days is a move in the right direction, however, we are concerned that this is still significantly longer than the maximum of four days for all other suspects - including those who are accused of the most serious of crimes.

Anti-terror stop and search powers (section 44)

"The use of anti-terror stop and search powers by the police has had a disproportional impact on particular religious and ethnic groups. We welcome the narrower restrictions on their use without reasonable suspicion; however we are not confident that these proposals will remedy that problem.  We will monitor their use closely if this becomes law."

Control orders

"Rightly, in this country people are innocent until proven guilty. Any departure from this principle has to be treated with the utmost caution and should be used only where absolutely necessary.  Individuals who are a threat to public safety should be prosecuted wherever possible, and we look forward to the proposals for the use of intercept evidence that could help this happen. 

"The previous control order regime didn't get the balance right between protecting the public and protecting civil liberties. It remains to be seen whether T-Pims will achieve this in practice and we will be keeping their use under careful scrutiny.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA)

"The powers public authorities have to collect, retain and share data and to keep people under surveillance need to be rationalised and restricted to only the most serious of offences. The proposals move in the right direction but we think a wider review of these powers is essential."

Ends

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.

For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.

Notes to editors

The Commission submitted evidence to the review as well as met with the review team and the independent reviewer Lord MacDonald of River Glaven QC.

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.  It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.