Yesterday the Prime Minister and Home Secretary met with police and security agency chiefs to see what new powers if any were necessary in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in London.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who represnt most of the the police forces in the UK (except for Scotland), have published a long shopping list of extra new legal powers, many of which are extremely controversial and probably counterproductive.
The "consensus in principle" by the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians must not grant all this shopping list of powers to the police and security agencies - if they do so, the terrorists will have won another victory.
"Press Release (N.B. peculiar GUID based URL for the ACPO press releases - are they trying to track individual downloads ?)
Reference: 55/05 Date: July 21, 2005
CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS RECOMMEND CHANGES TO COUNTER THE TERRORIST THREAT
Chief Police Officers today supported several key changes to existing counter terrorist legislation including;
- Acts Preparatory to Terrorism
- Indirect Incitement to Criminal Acts
- Providing or Receiving Training in the use of Hazardous Substances
They also proposed some further changes to law and procedure including;
- a new offence of not disclosing encryption keys
- Extension of maximum pre-charge detention on suspicion of terrorism from 14 days to 3 months
- A review of border security
And focused on several other police issues, including;
- a willingness to discuss further the issue of admission of Interception material as evidence in criminal trials;
- the need for further funding for regional Special Branches capacity
- the need for further funding for national ANPR capacity
Ken Jones, Chairman of the ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, and Chief Constable of Sussex, speaking after meeting the Prime Minister this afternoon, commented;
"The terrorist attacks in London on 7 July and today provide an opportunity for us to reflect on our systems and practices to ensure they are sufficient to counter such unprecedented events."
"All police forces in the UK are working closely with the Metropolitan Police in the investigation of the incidents, and our counter terrorism legislation is sophisticated and robust - yet practice and experience shows us that nothing is flawless. We now have an opportunity to examine our system and close loopholes to prevent the recurrence of such acts."
"In considering new legislation we recognise the following as imperatives:-
- New proposals must enhance an already robust system;
- Proposed changes must not duplicate existing legislation;
- Proposals should be measured and necessary and not viewed as a knee jerk reaction to events;
- New legislation needs to cut across different law enforcement and intelligence agencies to enable collaboration in countering terrorism;
"At this time there are increased levels of concern and feelings of vulnerability within a number of communities, especially Muslim ones. It is important that society is not seen to disengage from their needs and fears by introducing flawed legislation."
"However the evolving nature of the current threat from international terrorism demands that those charged with countering the threat have the tools they need to do the job. Often there is a need to intervene and disrupt at an early stage those who are intent on terrorist activity in order to protect the public. Clearly our legislation must reflect the importance of such disruptive action."
"We have therefore put to Government today the following views of the police service."
"A. Proposed new legislation
The proposed counter terrorism legislation proposes the creation of three new criminal offences and a number of other changes to close loopholes and improve operational efficiency.
1. Acts Preparatory to Terrorism.
This offence will deal with instances where there is serious criminal intent yet the precise details of the terrorist act are not known. It will allow the police and intelligence agencies to intervene at an early stage early to protect the public and will go some way towards countering the negative messages we receive concerning terrorism arrests and subsequent charging/prosecution figures. This offence has been widely discussed previously and is not unexpected. It will assist in putting the tactic of disruption on a more formal legislative footing."
The words "acts preparatory to terrorism" have been widely used, but that does not that there has been informed public debate, since the details of what is intended have not been spelt out. See the comments further down this article.
We do not want terrorist organisations to be subjected to the flawed tactic of disruption ! This seems to be a euphemism for bureaucratic backside covering, "just in case", on insufficent actual evidence. The huge danger with a policy of "disruption", is that by targeting so called "acts preparatory to terrorism". which are not already covered by existing legislation, it will be a recruiting seargeant, which radicalises the family, friends and community of the "martyrs" who are subjected to lengthy arrest without charge or trial etc.
ACPI's hope that such new powers
"will go some way towards countering the negative messages we receive concerning terrorism arrests and subsequent charging/prosecution figures"
tends to prove that the policy of "disruption" and stopping, searching and arresting people, without sufficient evidence, is a bad idea. Lowering the standard of proof required to get a conviction, or inventing even more catch all new offences, is not the right thing to do either.
We do not want "disruption" we want destruction of terrorist organisations !
"2. Indirect Incitement to Commit Terrorist Acts.
Direct incitement to commit a violent or criminal act is already an offence. The new proposed offence is intended to capture the expression of sentiments which do not amount to direct incitement to commit terrorist acts but which are made with the intent to encourage others to commit terrorist acts.
How exactly do you fairly and consistently prove "intent", but with no direct evidence of incitement ?
"This offence will allow the UK to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which requires parties to have an offence of public provocation to commit a terrorist offence. Public provocation is defined as "inciting the commission of an offence whether or not directly…"
The introduction of this offence will significantly widen the scope of the incitement offence. Clearly there is a Europe wide drive for such legislation to which we would wish to be a key partner."
The NuLabour Home Office is very selective in which Council of Europe Conventions it chooses to support see the ongoing scandal of the refusal to sign or ratify the CoE Convention Against Human Trafficking which would give minimal rights to victims of the sex slave and forced labour trades, to be treated firstly as victims , rather than only as criminals or illegal immigrants.
"3. Providing or Receiving Training in the Use of Hazardous Substances.
The purpose of this offence is to cover training undertaken in the UK and abroad. Again this offence complies with the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention for parties to have in place a comprehensive offence to deal with all aspects of terrorist training.
Section 54 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) provides wide legislative coverage of the issue of terrorist training. However it does not cover issues relating to hazardous substances and methods or techniques. The new offence would address this gap and ensure compliance with other European partners.
The new offence would also incorporate the element of receiving training despite the fact that the Convention only refers to providing training. This would bring the new offence in line with the offences of Section 54 of TACT.
There are provisos attached to this offence in that the training has to have a potential terrorist use and that the training is given or received with the intention of being used for terrorist purposes. The definitions of hazardous substances may need wider consultation but subject to that, this offence will assist our work to protect the public."
Surely the definition of a "weapon" and therefore of "weapons training" is quite easily wide enough to encompass "hazardous substances", the possession of many of which are already illegal under exisiting laws covering explosives, poisons, toxins, and chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological weapons.
"2. Proposed changes to existing legislation
1. Introduce "all premises" warrants in terrorist legislation.
This would enable police to obtain search warrants covering any property owned or controlled by terrorist suspects. It would increase efficiency and reduce time wasted applying for warrants during post arrest phase. It may in fact lead to suspects spending shorter periods in custody."
Why is there any significant administrative delay in obtaining even multiple premises search warrants, especially after an arrest has actually been made ?
The police must not be given unlimited powers to just enter and search any premises they want to, without any judicial supervision.
"2. Give the Security Service the ability to seek warrants authorising activities overseas.
Currently the Security Service has to rely on the Secret Intelligence Service to act on its behalf."
No ! Why is MI5 the Security Service planning to conduct overseas operations without coordinating with the Secret Intelligence Service Mi6 who work mostly overseas ? Why can't MI6 handle such operations as they do now ?
We do not want a USA or Russian style competition and rivalry between security agencies to apply to MI5 and MI6 !
"3. Allow a one day period of grace on warrants under Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 if a person enters the United Kingdom.
This will ensure there is no loss of coverage of a target coming to the UK."
This would appear to be an uncontroversial demand, although it is puzzling why it should have to be necessary at all.
"4. Allow initial cash seizure hearings to take place in closed session.
This will allow hearings concerned with the seizure of terrorist cash to be heard in closed court session and follows on from the Newton Committee recommendations on the Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001."
The "seizure of terrorist cash" is virtually non-existant and moore for political effect than an actual counter terrorism measure. There has only been £380,000 seized since September 11th 2001 by UK authorities, spread over some 45 different accounts i.e. less than the value of a single house in a suburb of London.
"5. Ratification of the UN convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism.
Various minor changes are required to enable the UK to ratify this convention."
What are these exactly ?
"6. Amendments to the Explosive Substances Act 1883.
Amendments should ensure that it is an offence to plan an explosion which takes place overseas. This would appear to be a logical development of the legislation."
Why are they trying to amend this old legislation ? It is already an offence to plan an overseas act of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000 When would the Explosive Substances Act 1883 ever be used in preference ? If there are illegal explosives found in the UK, what difference does it make whether they are intended for use in the UK or abroad ?
If there are no explosives found in the UK, then trying to shoehorn this act to cover the rest of the world is stupid.
"7. Extending terrorism stop and search powers to cover bays and estuaries.
Currently stop and search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are linked to geographical police boundaries and effectively apply on land. An extension to include bays and estuaries, so called internal waters, would be a step forward. This is a quick measure that would afford added protection.
However there is a consensus within the police service that we would wish this power to be extended further. If we take party conferences as an example then there is no power to interdict or stop vessels offshore as Section 44 authority ends at the low water mark. The extension of the power to include the 12 mile coastal limit would be welcome by police forces.
Current legal advice is that such powers cannot be extended without the "reasonable suspicion" test as they interfere with international law and freedom of passage at sea. International agreement for something that falls between internal waters/low water and the 12 mile mark may be the way forward."
So what are the Royal Navy for ? Do Police forces intend to try to search ships at sea without the help of the Navy ?
The test of "reasonable suspicion" should apply to all searches on land as well !
"8. Increased flexibility of the proscription regime.
This will prevent organisations from evading the proscription regime by changing their name."
Surely this just requires the Home Office to get their collective fingers out ?
It is a scandal that neither the Taleban in Afghanistan nor any Chechen groups nor any so called animal rights extremist groups are on the Home Office's list of "proscribed organisations".
"9. Improved search powers at ports.
Strengthen the legislation to make it clear that examining officers at ports have powers to search vehicles as part of their examining officer functions."
In what way is this not clear at the moment ?
"10. Control Orders.
The Home Secretary has told Parliament that there would be time to consider this issue again. The police approach remains supportive of the need for a form of scrutiny for individuals in order to disrupt terrorist activity without criminal proceedings. Suitable legislation will continue to assist the police and intelligence agencies to better contain the terrorist threat."
No ! The whole concept of "disruption" is stupid and counterproductive. The use of Control Orders, which restrict the freedoms of people without any charge or evidence being brought against them, breaches so many of our fundamntal liberties and freedoms, it gives comfort to the aims of the terrorists, and
acts as a recruiting factor for new generations of terrorists.
"C. New Police Proposals
1.Extension of pre charge detention from 14 days to 3 months
The complexity and scale of current counter terrorist operations leave the current 14 day maximum detention period often insufficient. The complexities and timescales surrounding forensic examination of scenes etc merely add to the burden and immense time pressures on investigating officers. A judicially supervised process to allow detention to be authorised from 14 days up to 3 months would assist in the efficiency and preparation of evidence to sustain charging."
Why not spend more money and resources on forensic investigators and facilities instead ?
You do not have to wait for every last victim of a terrorist bomb to be forensically identified, before charging a suspect with the first murder.
The temptation will be to use such extended detention without charge or trial as a collective punishment of various communities under the so called tactic of disruption, which is just wrong.
"2.Offence not to disclose encryption keys etc
Recent investigations have been made more complex by difficulties for investigating officers in ascertaining whereabouts of encryption keys to access computers etc. An amendment to part 3 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to make it an offence to fail to disclose such items would provide some sanction against suspects failing to cooperate with investigations."
No ! That is the point about the so called safeguards in Part 3 of RIPA. We have genuinely forgotten many PGP passphrases that we have used in the past. There are many cyrptographic protocols where the user simply never knows the encryption key in detail e.g. an SSL/ TLS secure wbemail or credit card transaction or a mobile phone conversation.
Why should a member of the public be at risk of a criminal offence if they fail to disclose an encryption key which they cannot supply ? This legislation does not just apply to terrorist offences, but to all "serious crimes".
"3.Use of the internet to prepare, encourage, facilitate acts of terrorism.
The creation of an offence to suppress inappropriate internet usage is necessary in respect of today’s global communication capability. This preventative measure may well be catered for within the proposed new offence of acts preparatory to terrorism."
How exactly is such a policing of the global internet going to take place, and who is going to pay for it ?
If the Home Office cannot even keep their list of proscribed terrorist organisations up to date, then why should we believe that they will do this with "terrorist websites" etc ?, in real time ?
"4. Powers to attack identified websites.
This power has significant benefits for counter terrorism and overlaps with other police priorities namely domestic extremism and paedophilia/child pornography. This issue goes beyond national borders and requires significant international cooperation. The need for appropriate authority and warrantry is implicit."
Mo! Why should UK police authorities be allowed to declare "cyber war" on a foreign country ? Some countries, e.g. China and possibly even the USA, will view "cyber attacks" by UK authorities as an act of war.
The Indymedia server seizure affair last October illustrated how Mulilateral Legal Assistance Treaties can cause "collateral damage" to innocent third parties on a shared web server.
If the UK authorities are somehow allowed to attack foreign websites (there are no UK websites with illegal content on them that cannot already be removed voluntarily by the UK ISP industry), then foreign governments will also be attacking UK websites.
Will news websites such as Al Jazeera be atatcked, as they have been by US vigilantes, who do not even speak Arabic and who objected to some web video coverage from Iraq which was gleefully re-broadcast by all the mainstream media ?
Why are suspicious websites not put under surveillance, with the cooperation of local national law enforcement authorities ?
If all that is intended is the counterproductive tactic of "disruption" then that is doomed to failure, and will hand a propaganda victory to the terrorists.
"5. Cross Border Authorisations
The office of the National Coordinator Special Branches (NCSB) has a key role is driving forward the ACPO(TAM) theme of building regional capability and capacity. Currently RIPA does not allow for Covert Human Intelligence Source or Directed Surveillance authorities to be authorised by an officer from one force area for implementation in another force area. The advent of regionalisation of Special Branch working processes means that this could become a significant hurdle to operational effectiveness. The introduction of a regional authorisation process would assist this development."
So how does the National Crime Squad operate now, and how will the Serious Organised Crime Agency operate next year ?
"6.Cross border property warrants.
This proposal could link directly with the desire for cross border authorisations.
Clearly the development of our regional investigative capability will make this a potential issue for the future."
Same question as above: so how does the National Crime Squad operate now, and how will the Serious Organised Crime Agency operate next year ?
"7. National security equipment at ports.
The urgent expansion of the formal Designation scheme or passenger/cargo hypothecation for security at all air and sea ports is necessary to ensure borders remain properly secured through effective protective security measures. The ACPO preference is the hypothecation model. Currently the ports industry is required to provide accommodation for special branch policing at ports. The standard of provision varies considerably throughout the country and has been highlighted by Lord Carlile as an area requiring constant attention. To raise the bar further it has been identified that a statutory obligation on the ports industry to allow the installation of specific national security equipment (eg ANPR/CCTV) would be particularly helpful. This would ensure that ports operators could not succumb to natural commercial pressure, which might obstruct important additions to the national counter terrorism infrastructure."
Why doen't the Governmet pay for proper office accomodation, computer and CCTV equipment at our ports and airports ?
"8. General aviation powers under the Terrorism Act 2002 (TACT 2000)
The current provisions of TACT 2000 require general aviation to notify the police of flight movements within the common travel area (CTA). We should consider extending this power to include all flights within the CTA and internationally. This would have particular relevance for short flights to and from Europe."
Which police force handles this flight movement information now ?
Surely this is all information is already available via TRANSEC the Department of Transport's security team ?
"9. Protective security powers.
Government to consider creating a duty on the public and private sector to install and maintain to approved standards protective security in designated locations. Also consideration should be given to creating a duty whereby privately employed security staff are put at the disposal of the police in the immediate aftermath of an outrage."
There is already the power to amend the Building Regulations to do this under the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004
We would welcome this if it meant that CCTV cameras were regulated and maintained properly.
The big question is who actually pays for these national security costs ?
There has never been any occasion where private security staff have not cooperated with the local police in enforcing a cordon, or in guiding them in a search of their building, on a voluntary basis, after a terrorist outrage.
Does "private security staff" also include IT systems administrators and consultants who hold the "electronic keys" ?
What is the point of more bureaucratic legal red tape ?
"10. Disclosure in criminal proceedings;
Consideration should be given to developing new rules of disclosure to provide protection from discovery of sensitive tactics and techniques."
There are already a huge range of protections avilable with hearings held in camera, anonymous witnesses, video conferencing evidence, public interest disclosure immunity certificates, reporting restrictions etc. at the discretion of a Judge.
What more do they want ?
"11. Compulsory answers to questions.
The obligation placed on company directors in fraud trials to answer questions would have significant benefits if developed into the arena of counter terrorism."
This obligation on company directors is already a breach of Human Rights, and it should not be used as a wedge to further extend such
powers to other offences.
"D. Other policy/structural changes
Government should review and reconsider bids already presented for developing regional police capability and capacity to counter terrorism and domestic extremism. ACPO has submitted detailed modest bids to Government to put in place necessary capability and capacity at the regional level. Reconsideration of these bids is essential.
2 Special Branch Capability
The Home Secretary, as he has done with the National Centre for Policing Excellence through the Police Act 1996, should codify activity and mandate the minimum capability and capacity for special branches within police forces. This has a direct link to the principle of scaleability implicit in the ACPO(TAM) proposals for building regional capability and capacity.
3 ANPR - Nationwide
Significant improvement is possible in our ability to contain the terrorist threat and reduce overall crime. The provision of £45.3 million would enhance the capacity of the ANPR data centre, provide a mobile fingerprint capacity to every mobile ANPR intercept team, provide research and development to safeguard against ANPR counter measures and complete an upgrade programme for ANPR at all sea and air ports and key road linkages."
There has been no public debate about the privacy intrusions which a National Automatic Number Plate Recognition database system poses to the vast majority of innocent motorists.
What is the Data Retention policy for this "ANPR data centre", esprecially for innocent motorists movement data ?
"4. Border Agency
ACPO believes the Government should review its position on a single Border Agency. The current 'e-borders' programme is developing well and we are fully supportive of its development. We believe it would complement such an Agency."
This is not currently Labour Government policy, but it is the policy of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Opposition parties.
"5. National Police Improvement Agency
This new Agency, due to become operational in April 2007, must ensure that its priorities include the police role in countering terrorism.
6.Threat Level Review
Recent changes to the threat level definitions have provided greater clarity for police and intelligence services in fine tuning responses to minor changes in the intelligence picture but such changes are not well understood by the public and consideration ought to be given to developing and delivering this information in a suitable format for public consumption."
"7.Admission of Interception evidence
More traffic light colour alerts ?
Where is the Civil Defence training of the public or even of key transportation or private security staff ?
Intelligence gained from the lawful and properly accountable interception of communications is a valuable asset for the intelligence services and law enforcement in terrorist investigations. The arguments for and against its admissibility as evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings are finely balanced,
and are subject of regular discussion amongst law enforcement and intelligence professionals. The ACPO view has always has been, that on balance the arguments for retaining the current position outweigh those for allowing its admission as evidence in terrorist prosecutions. However we are ready to review that position in consultation with government and security agencies"
So how do you prove, beyond reasonable doubt that telephone or email etc. electronic intercept evidence has not been faked, mistranslated taken out of context or misleadingly edited in an attempt to "fit up" a terrorist suspect who hates the British Governmet and state authorities ?
Is this review of intercept evidence also going to apply to non-terrorist ooffences as well ?
NOTES FOR EDITORS;
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7227 3406/3425 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours), or email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Further information including copies of recent news releases can also be found on website ‘www.acpo.police.uk’.
Through a series of committees and working groups ACPO members, often in consultation with develop policy and guidance for the police service. The Association aims to assist chief officers in providing excellence in leadership of the service; to ensure a professional and ethical service is delivered to all communities; and to provide professional advice to Government. Police Authorities other organisations and individuals with an interest in policing issues.
ACPO’s 292 members are; police officers of Assistant Chief Constable rank (Commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, and senior non-police managers, in the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus national agencies such as NCIS and the National Crime Squad, and other forces such as British Transport Police and States of Jersey Police."