Even if the Government accedes to some of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Opposition demands, and introduces an amendment to the Prevention of Terrorism Bill on Monday, which has a Judge rubber stamping a Control Order insead of just the Home Secretary doing so, this will still be an evil piece of legislation.
Judging from some of the Amendments which have been tabled, the Conservatives seem to be probing to see if the people subjected to "non-derogating" Control Orders i.e. not "house arrest" can be forced (under threat of 5 years in prison for not complying with the Control Order) to give up "information" to, presumably foreign intelligence agency personnel, or to be sent abroad for questioning/torture ("extraordinary rendition" in US political euphemism jargon)
"'(3A) A control order may not require the controlled person to leave the United Kingdom.'."
'(3A) A control order may not require the controlled person to talk to any specified person or any other person who is not a British citizen or is in the employment of or under contract to any foreign government.'.
'(3A) A control order may not require the controlled person to submit to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.'."
We are still dismayed, but not actually surprised, given the amount of Home Office legislation we have read, that the weasel word "any" has crept in to the clauses dealing with the actual serving of a Control Order.
For all those Englishmen at Home in their Castles, this might come as a bit of a shock:
"5 Modification, notification and proof of orders etc.
6) For the purpose of delivering a notice under subsection (5) to the controlled person a constable or a person authorised for the purpose by the Secretary of State may (if necessary by force)—
(a) enter any premises where he has reasonable grounds for believing that person to be; and
(b) search those premises for him."
That means that the police or some other as yet undefined secret policeman or a private sector bailiff, can enter by force
, any premises
in the UK and make a search without a warrant
signed by a Magistrate or Judge or even the Home Secretary. What constitutes "reasonable suspicion" in such cases ? Rumour, hearsay and the flimsiest of evidence very often.
There are no restrictions on arranging a reasonable time, contacting the actual keyholder or landlord of a premises (it is unlikley that many of the Belmarsh detainees, for instance, will be substantial property owners themselves), or any legal duty to repair the damage or to compensate for lost business as a result of such a forced entry and search.
This is enforced by:
(3) A person is guilty of an offence if he intentionally obstructs the exercise by any person of a power conferred by section 5 6)."
which leads to penalties of:
"(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (3) shall be liable—
(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both;
(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not
exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both."
This applies not just to the person on whom a Control Order is being served, but to any friends , family , members of the public etc. who are deemed to be "obstructing". Who determines this and how ?
We still cannot find any mention in the Bill or in any of the tabled amendments, anything about Criminal Records, and Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosures regarding people who have complied with Control Orders and who have therefore never been convicted of anything by a court of law. What are the rules for purging the record of the fact that they have been subjected to a Control Order ? Or does the black mark stay on your secret police zapiska for the rest of your life, even if the Control Order has been quashed by a Court ?
What gets revealed to a potential employer during a Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosure check ?
The Home Office really have not thought through all the implications of this rushed legislation. It is clear from the list of Amendments that this point has escaped the scrutiny of Members of Parliament as well.
Another point which the Home Office has not thought through is what if Control Orders are served on Children ? Can they be hunted down and served with a Control Order without a responsible adult or legal advisor present ?
The so called "non-derogating" Control Orders in Clause 1 Section 3 are far too loosely worded, duplicate existing anti-terrorism legislation and in some cases are just nonsense: