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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 12:54 GMT
Tackling the terror threat: Your views
Police officer in London
The government wants to introduce further new measures to tackle terrorism.

The proposals include special courts without juries, civil orders for people suspected of planning a terrorist act, and allowing phone taps to be used as evidence in trials.

Opponents say Home Secretary David Blunkett is creating a climate of fear to justify repressive anti-terror laws.

But the government says security and personal safety are vital while the threat of a terror attack on UK soil remains.

Do you agree with the government that such steps are necessary to protect the British people? Should some civil liberties take a back seat in order to beat terrorism?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Adam, London:
What is your reaction to the new measure that David Blunkett has announced to counter terrorism?
and by Emma, England:
Do David Blunkett's anti-terrorism proposals go too far against our civil liberties?

I worked as a Met Police Officer in the 80s at the height of the IRA bombs. If you got called to an empty car outside Waterloo Station you WERE scared. Did it have a bomb in it and did you clear the station? I went to London with my children a couple of weeks ago, I had not a care in the world. I believe the current 'War on Terror' is being manipulated by the Government for its own political ends. George Bush played this card very effectively to get re-elected, now it is Blair's turn. MI5 and Special Branch are very good at what they do, we should trust them to get on it without political meddling.
Chris P, Bucks

What really scares me are the so called civil liberties groups hell bent on attacking every sensible move made in attempting to prevent a possible terror attack
Ed H, Cheshire, UK
David Blunkett does not frighten me, and nor does Tony Blair for that matter. What really scares me are the so called civil liberties groups hell bent on attacking every sensible move made in attempting to prevent a possible terror attack on UK soil. I am no expert on terrorism but it seems pretty clear to me that its better to arrest, put on trial (behind closed doors if necessary) and imprison anyone with a terror agenda.
Ed H, Cheshire, UK

The "terror threat" is nothing new to the UK- notice we have no litter bins on our stations. The proposed new laws give the appearance of planning Guantanamo Bay style justice. This is not acceptable.
al, T Wells UK

Congratulations, once you consider implementing laws like this the terrorists have won. The only way to beat terrorism is to refuse to change your way of life, change things and they win.
Ben Bell, Canterbury, Kent

To say that the innocent should not be afraid is to miss the point utterly. It is precisely the innocent who should be afraid because it is us who run the risk of being imprisoned unjustly. The British justice system has for centuries been based on the idea that the worst thing the system can do is imprison the innocent and now we seem to be turning that around. Only a few years after the last swathe of appeals (Birmingham Four? Guildford Six? Remember them?) we seem to have forgotten all the lessons. I guarantee that in 10 or 20 years' time the same thing will be happening, but worse.
Katherine, London, UK

Anyone who says that law abiding citizens needn't worry is living in dream land. Blunkett is proposing to lock people up, despite not having broken any laws on the suspicion of being a terrorist. What constitutes evidence in such a case? How can we be sure that the people arrested are not just people who've criticised the Government?
Francisco, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

We obviously need to take all necessary precautions in following up credible information about possible terrorist risks to the UK, but, can we any longer believe our politicians after the fiasco of the evidence for WMD in Iraq. That took us into a war that looks like going on for a very long time. The biggest risk to our national security is relationship between Tony Blair and George Bush. A compulsory national identity card system would be a good idea though.
Thomas Woolley, Y Fenni, Wales

A really determined terrorist will be able to blow something up
James, Cornwall, UK
This is a climate of fear. We've all seen what these so called anti-terror measures and all the money spent have achieved. Precisely nothing! People can still scale Buckingham Palace or throw flour at the PM in the House of Commons. It doesn't matter what legislation is introduced a really determined terrorist will be able to blow something up.
James, Cornwall, UK

I am deeply depressed and increasingly frightened by what is happening to this country. How can this be squared with the noble tradition of British democracy? History shows that such powers, once assumed by the State, are seldom relinquished and, most frequently are further extended beyond their original purpose. At a time when we are involved (rightly or wrongly) with actively installing democracy in Iraq, why do we seek to abandon many of its most important cornerstones? Can we really see trial-behind-closed-doors for a crime you might be thinking about committing as the measured response of a democracy? How can the innocent, now presumed guilty, demonstrate that innocence?
Gareth Evans, Banff, Scotland

Have we learned nothing over the past couple of years? The best way forward would be to try to dissipate the current climate of fear, not add to it.
Adrian, London, UK

Control by fear is not the way to run a country
Graham Smith, Southampton, UK
What terror threat? We constantly hear that we are under threat and that an attack will happen at some point in the future but when? We, the people, have no real evidence that there is actually a threat at all. We just have to trust our political masters because everything is secret. I can't help feeling this is a case of the emperors new clothes. Control by fear is not the way to run a country.
Graham Smith, Southampton, UK

Like most people, I want our security services to have the tools they need to tackle terrorism. Like most people I need assurances that those same tools will never be used outside of terrorism cases.
Iain Howe, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Who is to protect us from our government?
Adrian Holme, London, UK
These proposals will not prevent 'terrorism'. What they will do is further destroy fundamental liberties such as the right to trial by jury. We have already lost fundamental rights enshrined in 1215 in Magna Carta ('To no one will we ...deny or delay right or justice') by detaining people without trial. Liberty is more important than spurious protection from terror. Who is to protect us from our government?
Adrian Holme, London, UK

Let the civil libertarians explain their principles, in person, to the parents of young people blown to pieces by a terrorist bomb.
John, U.K.

Security and personal safety definitely go hand in hand. The prime responsibility of any government is to protect the security of its citizens fully and effectively. In the present climate while the threat of a terror attack is very real the Home Secretary has to enforce stringent proposals. However these proposals should in no way really hurt law-abiding citizens. They may inconvenience citizens by the security checks but should not alarm citizens with a clear conscience. The Guantanamo experience should never be relived. All terror detainees should have access to lawyers and should be treated under the Geneva convention. Terrorists are mean, callous and inhuman and would resort to despicable acts of violence calculated to cause the maximum mayhem, distress and disruption. Once convicted in a British court of law, they should serve their sentence fully. Vigilance at the highest levels is an absolute must. Surveillance of all shady groups, allegedly linked to terrorism, has to be in place including phone-taps. Normal peace-loving citizens with no hidden terrorist agendas should ever fear!
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

Special powers and courts merely alienated elements of the population
Gavin, Edinburgh, Scotland
The PM needs to learn from our experience in NI. Special powers and courts merely alienated elements of the population and served to keep the terrorist organisations well recruited. There is no evidence that this will not happen again with the new war on terror. I suggest that the PM has been analysing the apparent success of his friend George. Frighten a nation with threats of terrorism and the nation will re-elect you on the premise that at least you are strong in the face of the enemy. In other words, this has more to do with the forthcoming elections than it has to do with combating a threat to our nation.
Gavin, Edinburgh, Scotland

The current rules seem to be working. Unless there is a compelling case to change them, which nobody apart from a few secretive people in government seem to be able to see, there doesn't appear to be any reason to make changes. But Blunkett needs to be seen as tough, so I'm sure we'll be hearing reasons similar to those used to justify universal ID. Mostly fear, lots of bogus statistics, and more fear.
Michael Ansley, Guildford, Surrey

I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. Whilst only a fool would write off groups such as Al-Qaeda and similar fundamentalist groups (not all of them Islamists) I remain unconvinced that the threat is anywhere near as large as either the US or David Blunkett would have us believe. It is being used, around the world at the moment, to justify some of the worst infringements to civil liberty since WW2. There was a sound and convincing case for the curtailing of civil rights and over-use of covert surveillance. It is not in the populace's interests to be denied freedom, any more than it is their interests to be blown up by a terrorist's bomb.
Jake Eyre, Poole, Dorset





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