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Counter-terrorism and national security powers under review

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The government has announced an independent review of counter-terrorism law in light of civil liberties concerns. The goal of the review is to provide guidance on the national security powers that are proportionate to the threat posed by terrorist groups and which ones are disproportionate and should be rolled back.

Announcing the review, Home Secretary Theresa May said:

"National security is the first duty of government but we are also committed to reversing the substantial erosion of civil liberties.

"I want a counter-terrorism regime that is proportionate, focused and transparent. We must ensure that in protecting public safety, the powers which we need to deal with terrorism are in keeping with Britain's traditions of freedom and fairness.

"I am delighted that Lord Ken Macdonald QC will provide expert independent oversight of the review. This role is distinct from the excellent work that is already being undertaken by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC in his statutory role as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.

"We will look at the evidence presented to us and where it is clear that legislation needs to be amended or powers need to be rolled back, we will do so."

The review will look at six areas:

  • the use of control orders;
  • stop and search powers in section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography;
  • the detention of terrorist suspects before charge;
  • extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign nationals from the UK who pose a threat to national security;
  • measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence; and
  • the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities, and access to communications data more generally.

Lord Ken Macdonald QC will provide independent oversight of the review. He will ensure it is properly conducted, that all the relevant options have been considered and that the recommendations are balanced.

The government will report back on the findings of the review in the autumn.

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