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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Liberal Democrats exercise influence on control orders

This morning's Guardian reports that the coalition cabinet will today agree an "escalating series of measures" to replace the controversial control orders imposed indefinitely on terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted:

The delayed package of reformed counter-terrorism measures is to be announced by the home secretary, Theresa May, tomorrow and will include changes to stop and search powers and pre-charge detention as well as a replacement for the much-criticised control orders.

The final details have been agreed between Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minster, who fought the election pledging to scrap control orders, and May, who has faced strong pressure from the police and security services to maintain the key elements of the restrictive regime.

It is now expected that the Liberal Democrats will be able to claim progress by a decision to end the curfews of up to 16 hours that were labelled by critics as 'virtual house arrest'.

Instead the cabinet is poised to approve a compromise package of measures including overnight residence requirements from 10pm to 8am, to be coupled with continued electronic tagging, and in very few 'high-risk' cases increased funding for intensive surveillance operations.

In addition it is expected that the package will include promises to make renewed efforts to prosecute the eight remaining British nationals currently under control orders. The paper says that there will also be moves to ease the petty daily restrictions these nationals face, including limited access to the internet and phones as well as an end to bans on working or being educated.

This is a clear sign once more of the Liberal Democrat influence on government, reversing Labour's attack on civil liberties whilst ensuring that measures are put in place to protect our security from terrorists.
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