View Full Version : New Stop And Question Powers In Britain?

05-27-2007, 05:27 PM
New stop-and-question powers?


(Gold9472: Papers please.)

27/05/2007 21:02 - (SA)

London - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday accused courts and parliament of putting the rights of suspects before national security as it emerged that police may get powers to stop and question people in the street.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Blair argued that the disappearance last week of three terror suspects under control orders, a form of house arrest, was due to society's mixed-up priorities rather than government mistakes.

"The fault is not with our services or, in this instance, with the Home Office (interior ministry). We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first," Blair wrote.

"I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong."

A government proposal to grant police officers powers to stop and question people under anti-terror laws also emerged on Sunday to a volley of criticism, with a member of Blair's own cabinet joining the sceptics.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who is running for the Labour party deputy leadership, warned that the move could become "the domestic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay".

'Legacy moment'
The laws could not be passed before Blair leaves office and hands over to Finance Minister Gordon Brown at the end of next month.

Shami Chakrabarti, of civil rights campaigners Liberty, accused Blair of "political machismo, a legacy moment".

"Stopping and questioning anyone you like will backfire because people will be being criminalised," she said.

The Sunday Times said that anyone who refused to co-operate could be charged with obstructing the police and fined up to &3163;5 000.

The measures are currently in place in Northern Ireland and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern told Sky News television that it would be "a pity" if the powers - which had been due to be ditched there - were kept on.

Elsewhere in Britain, police currently have the power to stop and search individuals on "reasonable grounds for suspicion" that they have committed an offence but have no rights to ask for their identity and movements.

# The proposal came after three men on control orders - Lamine and Ibrahim Adam, aged 26 and 20, and Cerie Bullivant, 24 - went on the run on Tuesday.

The Adams pair are the brothers of Anthony Garcia, 25, who was imprisoned last month for his role in a fertiliser bomb plot aimed at attacking targets in London and across Britain.

Blair's government stepped up its approach to terrorism after the US attacks on 9/11 and again after four British-born Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 commuters and injured hundreds of others in London on July 7 2005.