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End control orders; reform detention without charge.

Comment 30th July 2010

As the incipient Coalition will be aware, the UK currently – through the 'Control Orders' legislation – allows among the longest detention times without charge of a suspect in the democratic world. Given the UK's pre-eminent position as a country with a cherished and developed conception of personal liberty and criminal justice, it seems strange that our response to terrorism is so unproportional to our international counterparts.

Furthermore, given our justified pride in our police and intelligence services, it seems paradoxical to lavish praise on our services whilst simultaneously sacrificing personal liberties in order to allow them excessive time to do the same job done in much shorter periods in other countries. 

Such profligacy with the liberty of suspects encourages complacency and acceptance that an entire month is a reasonable amount of time. When we consider that terror  suspects are of the highest priority with ample resources spent on their investigation we begin to appreciate how unneccesary this time should be,

My idea is to scrap Control Orders – in particular the excessive detention without charge – and replace them with more proportionate and libertarian measures. The challenge is to balance public safety with stringent measures; you were elected to find difficult solutions.

Why does this matter?

There should be no need to explain the importance of a change to Control Orders to a Coalition in which both parties ran an election criticizing the damage done to civil liberties by the Labour party. It would be refreshing to see them come good on this adversarial rhetoric.

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