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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Have you been affected by existing laws?
Walter Wolfgang

Senior judges could be given the power to overrule decisions to detain terrorism suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer said the move would provide the safeguard critics want that proposed new terror laws would not be misused.

The Prime Minister argues increasing the length of time people can be held from two weeks to three months is necessary, to allow the police time to investigate complex cases.

Do you know anyone who has been detained under existing anti-terror laws? Have you been affected by them? Does the government need new powers to fight terrorism?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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

If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear. That is of course unless you're a Brazilian electrician.
Anon,

We didn't need these measures when the IRA was bombing the mainland. Why do we need them now?
Elizabeth, Oxford, UK

these laws are still the most practical way, at this time, of stopping terrorism
Ross Webb, Milton Keynes
I am appalled at the amount of people against the new terror laws. If I had to lose a few months of my freedom for being wrongly accused of something I would be happy in knowledge that these procedures could save the lives of all of my family and friends. I myself am a nineteen year old white male. I admit that I will probably never be affected by these laws; however these laws are still the most practical way, at this time, of stopping terrorism.
Ross Webb, Milton Keynes, England

We have already seen what the police do with their increased powers under the Terrorism Act; they use it to curtail the legal, legitimate activities of ordinary people on the streets. It seems that we the innocent have a great deal to fear from the increasing powers without proper controls.
Kate Corwyn

Reading these comments the vast majority of people seem to be against these proposed measures, either as unnecessary, ineffective, counter-productive or simply on the grounds of human rights in a democracy. So why, when the government is supposed to rule on behalf of the people, is it still pursuing such an unpopular policy with vigour and determination?
Martin, Coventry

Does anyone actually think detaining an old man for shouting 'nonsense' is, or will be, an isolated incident? Like most of us, he had nothing to hide - but he had plenty to fear. And so should we.
Wendy Simpson, Bournemouth, UK

The biggest threat to my civil liberties is the actions of the murderous radicals in our midst boosted by the liberals defending the murderer's right to escape the rule of law. I want to see these evil terrorists hunted down, locked up, taken to court and given a fair trial with all the evidence laid out and then, if found guilty, locked up or at the very least deported. I do not think my civil liberties are threatened in the slightest by ID cards, greater police powers etc. So civil libertarians, just what should we do to defend democracy and civil rights?
John

So where are the police to come from to support the latest initiative? Resources will be sucked out of the provinces to make London safer, whilst criminals have a "field day" elsewhere.
Chris Kisch, Milton Keynes, UK

These new terror laws are not so new, at least not if you consider the USA. It seems that these new laws are leading Britain towards a Guantanamo situation. How long will it be before our countries openly suggest torture as a necessary method of extracting information from suspects? Britain will serve as a role model around the globe, our relaxations of civil liberties will surely provoke others.
John Mitchell, Southampton, UK

When will the government actually define what constitutes terrorism?
Sally O'Neill, Warrington UK

This government does not want to protect us - it wants to control us
Ed B, Edinburgh
Mr Blair's new anti-terror laws will not protect the people of Britain even if they do come into force. He wants the government to have unprecedented powers to control us and limit our freedoms, and recent abuses of Section 44 of the Anti-Terrorism Act should show us how dangerous this may be. Instead, Blair should concentrate on the real reasons behind the terror attacks: our unethical foreign policy. If we were not the cause of misery, others would not seek to inflict misery upon us. This government does not want to protect us - it wants to control us.
Ed B, Edinburgh

Take it from an American who has had to live with four years of the Bush Administration and the Patriot Act: No, they will not work. All you will get is an erosion of civil liberties and government agencies abusing their power.
Brandon, United States

If our government talks of a war, how much easier it must be to recruit soldiers
Chris Derson, Blockley, UK
Killing is not a political act. Violence is not a political tool. Why then, does the government want to treat it as such? If our government talks of a war, how much easier it must be to recruit soldiers (on both sides) to fight it. If our government removes freedoms, how much easier it is to recruit freedom fighters. Extremists may seek to 'glorify' violence, but our government is validating violence.
Chris Derson, Blockley, UK

I'm not entirely clear about how these new laws would prevent another attack from happening. I understood that the 7/7 terrorists weren't on the police's radar and one of the killers had been removed from a list of potential terrorists some months earlier. Better intelligence (why was the security rating for London lowered in June?), and more active and intelligent police work might prove more successful, rather than limiting our freedoms further. But I guess there isn't a nice soundbite in that and also Mr Blair's pontificating gets the government out of explaining why London was left vulnerable to attack in July.
Rachel, London, UK

It's sad that "human rights" are becoming dirty words. I wonder how many people believe these rights are unimportant, yet don't realise that only a tiny fraction of people who've been arrested under recent anti-terrorist legislation are even charged with a terrorism-related offence, never mind convicted? Not all suspects are guilty, and we used to believe in "innocent until proven guilty" to protect those who aren't.
Chris, Cambridge, UK

If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear
JF, Chichester, West Sussex
The request for these laws has come directly from the police. I trust them to know what they need. If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear.
JF, Chichester, West Sussex

If the new terror laws run the same way as tax credits, NHS, affordable housing, pensions, benefit fraud etc, what chance is there? Get rid of the parasitic mentality that is running the country and maybe things and systems will work correctly.
David, Devon, UK

Why do we need these new Anti-Terror Laws? why were they not implemented when the IRA were bombing us? The difference is surely that this government has panicked because it realises that it has been too soft and the situation is way out of control. So now, decent citizens will have to pay for their stupid approach to the problem. Will they work? Yes and no; those same decent citizens will be cowed, the terrorists won't care. Heaven knows what our people who fought and died for their country, and freedom, would make of this.
Sue, Leicestershire, England

It's legislation like this, together with the treatment given to Walter Wolfgang, that make me seriously doubt our rulers' allegiance to the concept of the Rule of Law.
Nigel Baldwin, Portsmouth UK

Have we forgotten the July bombings already? At that point we were faced with the harsh reality of terrorism and were happy to do anything to combat it. Surely having an innocent man detained for 3 months on suspicion is a much better idea than having a budding terrorist released?
Rachel, Wiltshire

Personally I would like to protest against these new laws. Unfortunately I would probably be arrested.
Richard Boesch, Xativa, Spain

Nobody will convince me that the police will not abuse these powers. One only has to recall the racism that is inherent within the police force to realise that.
John Reeves, Reading

Rather then add new laws which may be abused by the police, it would be more sensible to make more evidence admissible in court so that a suspect's guilt can be determined in the normal way. As for the security services plea that it would endanger their methods if this was admitted I'd be surprised if people with a little ingenuity to mount bomb attacks couldn't also work out how they might be spied upon without it being shown in court.
Dave, Birmingham UK

Why does Tony Blair insist that he has to protect us against terrorism? No previous Prime Minister made such extravagant claims. We have seen some huge terrorist bombs detonated in the UK without such legislation. It should be noted that the bombers of July 7th had never been detained under anti-terrorist legislation, so the entire proposal is a smokescreen. No government can ever promise the safety of its citizens.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Have stricter asylum policies, make knowledge/skills based immigration legal and of course if a person wants to stay in UK they need to follow UK laws and be loyal to the country. There is no need of back stabbers/ law breakers in any country in the world.
Sheetal, USA

As a long time supporter of the Lib Dems, their reaction to the new powers is making me think again. They talk of Human Rights but surely if someone is committing or applauding terrorism they should not be considered human and should therefore forfeit those rights.
Dave, London

What if after these proposals there is another attack?
Diarmuid O'Donoghue, London, U
Would the proposed new laws have stopped the 7/7 bombers? Most certainly not. These new laws will affect normal law abiding people; the government is just playing into the hands of the terrorists. Good intelligence, along with current laws (if properly enforced), is adequate. What if after these proposals there is another attack? Should we then enact even more legislation?
Diarmuid O'Donoghue, London, UK

If this bill passes, in what way will the UK be different from a police state?
Zaki Aminu, Hertfordshire

I'm a Muslim. And it is clear that these laws will affect Muslims largely. Locking up Muslims for 90 days with no charge will just add more fuel to the fire. As a Muslim community we already feel a group who are oppressed and victimised, this will only serve more ammunition for the mullahs in their 'hate' sermons.
Dr M, London

The government's definition of terrorism is so open ended it can be used to describe any group they see as a threat
Adrian, Leeds, UK
Having been at the G8 summit and having been stopped, searched, questioned and filmed by police under the Terrorism Act for no other given reason that they wanted to, I know only too well how a law designed to arrest terrorists with bombs can be used in a multitude of ways depending on how the police see fit. The government's definition of terrorism is so open ended it can be used to describe any group they see as a threat to their policy - even if they are against violence completely. And the chances of these laws being taken off the book in the next 20 years? None.
Adrian, Leeds, UK

We can all be totally secure by putting ourselves in prison cells created by terrorism laws. But who pays the price for that? Freedom is well worth the price to pay - and the politicians are not the ones who have fought the wars in the past to bring our inalienable freedoms to fruition.
Bill Jeffries, England

What happens to the life of the individual detained, who may be innocent, and who pays the bill for their lives being disrupted? Is their compensation involved for a miscalculation of justice?
Iain, Reigate, UK

All we need is the will to implement our current laws
Bob, Glasgow
The dilemma between securing our lives and securing our rights is one that has been ignored as of late. The laws we have at present are enough in that extra laws would serve no purpose in defending lives; all we need is the will to implement our current laws. I would be uncomfortable with an extension of police powers as they have shown that they are willing to abuse or misuse them.
Bob, Glasgow

I am amazed by some of the responses to this article, civil liberties are essential in a democracy, how many who have posted responses have read 1984? I personally feel safer with the human rights act as I know I have protection if I were to be unfoundedly accused as in the case of the Guilford 4 and Birmingham 6.
Matthew Fright, Billingshurst, West Sussex

Matthew, Billingshurst: The Guildford 4 and Birmingham 6 verdicts were not overturned by the Human Rights Act.
ken, Merseyside, England

Surely these proposed new terror laws to detain a suspect for up to 90 days could be avoided IF evidence of covert surveillance of telephone calls, text and other forms of electronic media by the security services could be used as evidence. I have not seen any compelling reason why such evidence should not be permitted to be used to prove acts of terror, conspiracy or preparation of acts of terror. The security services claim that they have such evidence but are not permitted to use it in court. I would rather that form of evidence be adduced to prove acts of terror, preparation and conspiracy than the right to detain a suspect for up to 90 days in the hope that sufficient evidence to charge that suspect can be found from different sources. Then again that would put the decision making process in the hands of the judiciary and the police as opposed to the executive, a prospect that this government appears to be uncomfortable with!
David Wood, London

One terrorist loose can kill thousands
Sid Barry, Northampton England
Although I have never voted Labour, I agree with this 90 days proposal. If the police can only hold for 14 days they will leave it as late as possible to detain suspects, and suspects can then disappear. France and Germany hold them as long as needed and so should we. One terrorist loose can kill thousands. The risk is too high.
Sid Barry, Northampton England

The Government must not be allowed to lock people away without charge. After all, who decided what a terrorist is? In its most extreme case this law could simply be used to imprison people who disagree with Government policy - what could possibly be democratic about that? These kinds of proposals are simply abhorrent.
Gareth Roberts, London, UK

Surely more terrorism laws are vital, given the acute threat of 82 year old men questioning government policy?
Mark Seaden, England

Tony Blair was totally against measures like these when he was in opposition - despite the IRA's attacks. Why should we have our freedom taken away when it is through his actions that we have this new terror threat?
Vince, Neath

The proposed anti-terrorism laws have served a useful purpose in bringing to a head the long running battle between elected governments and the judiciary. Until this turf war is settled, the security, welfare and rights of the people will be trampled on. We are entitled to see judges and politicians working together for the common good instead of protecting their privileged positions. The judiciary, in particular, need to understand that they exist to serve and protect the people.
Ken, Merseyside, England

Looking at the comments here I can see that the terrorists have achieved their aim. We have frightened ourselves so much that we are now making laws that cause us to be sceptical of authority, some disruption to daily life and have curtailed some of our previous liberties. This has caused more damage to British way of life than the bombings.
Paul, Aberdeen, Scotland

Only intelligence can really combat terrorism
MT, London, UK
The government likes to be seen to be 'doing something' about terrorism. The fact is, only intelligence can really combat terrorism but that, of course, is by definition invisible. I just hope there is such real work going on as well as this pointless window-dressing.
MT, London, UK

I really wish that the human rights brigade, rather than just dismissing any proposed new measures out of hand, would at least acknowledge the fact that we a dealing with a new threat from a new type of terrorism that we haven't had experience of dealing with before, and accept that these issues at least demand a serious debate. Yes, issues such as, for instance, how long someone can be locked up without trial are important, but surely someone's right to catch the tube without fear of being blown up is just as important?
Chris Day, Oxford, UK

I believe that this could be one of the best laws recently passed. Well done Labour. You have just won a new backer!
Jobie Kirkwood, Chesterfield, UK

I suspect that the 'human rights' and PC brigade, encouraged by lawyers, barristers, judges etc, would prefer to see people blown up rather than their 'human rights' infringed. When dealing with a 'war' society as a whole must be prepared to accept some discipline in their daily lives as in any war that affects the home front
Ron Milligan, Gosport, England

I felt more of this should take place in order to keep our areas safe
J J Semaan, Colchester, Essex
I was stopped and searched on the street in Colchester for carrying a rucksack. The policemen stated that this comes under the section 44 of the Terrorist Act. I showed them what I had and continued my journey. The policemen were apologetic and polite. Honestly, I felt more of this should take place in order to keep our areas safe.
J J Semaan, Colchester, Essex

Trust is missing from all of this, and without that these anti-terror laws will achieve nothing. We don't trust the police, we don't trust the government, and the laws are being misused against 87-year-olds who say the word "nonsense". This government and our police are out of control. We need to get to the root cause of why terrorists want to kill us: what is the government or our police doing about that?
Nat, London, UK

Police powers are already being abused in the name of combating terrorism - we all have something to fear, however innocent we are, if people are given the power to lock us up without charge. This is already happening to ordinary people, and those who think extra powers will only hurt terrorists are living in a fantasy world.
David, Malvern, UK

The one thing that appears to have been ignored is the actual definition of "terrorism". Everyone is just assuming it means a bomber or an assassin, but the definition could be much wider. It is absolutely essential that an unambiguous definition of what is terrorism be agreed before any new proposals are agreed.
John Beard, Eastbourne, E Sussex

The bill doesn't go any where near far enough. We will still be viewed as a soft touch by extremists. I think foreign nationals involved in terrorism should be deported without the right to appeal. Any UK nationals involved should be locked up for life without parole.
Keith, UK

The law needs to change to keep up with the horrors of the modern world
Griff, Cardiff
The law needs to change to keep up with the horrors of the modern world. Otherwise we are at the mercy of terrorists who exploit our liberal values. The problem lies with enforcement and the public needs reassurance that the police will not be able to abuse these new laws.
Griff, Cardiff, Wales

I am horrified and ashamed that anyone could be locked up without trial or charge for months, in my country. This is the inhumane and barbaric behaviour.
Guy, UK

Not quite a victim of the law, but of the attitude of the police. Me and one of my work colleagues were walking past the treasury when Tony Blair turning up for a meeting entered the treasury. The armed police attached to him immediately raised and trained their guns on me and my colleague until he had passed through. Naturally we were shocked. I was full of rage though at the attitude the police took to two ordinary working men.
Jimmy, Herts, UK

The new terror laws will have two major effects. They will act as further fuel to the fires and alienate currently moderate people. They will give cause to fear to millions of completely innocent people because of the utter lack of checks and balances. Prevent terrorism? No.
Kate Corwyn,

Terrorism has at its root fundamental injustices that are perceived to have been done by one group of people (in this case the West) against another (in this case the Middle East). We do not need more laws to tackle terrorism - we need to radically re-think our place in the world and how we interact with the people in it. In my view, this means completely scrapping this country's unethical and immoral foreign policy agenda against those other countries, and redefining it terms of the rule of international law, peace, co-operation and fair trade.
Alan Haynes, Chatham, UK

All that is required for evil to win is for good men to do nothing
Lee, Winchester
All that is required for evil to win is for good men to do nothing (other than talk about the situation on web sites). If these freedoms were so precious then folks would do more than whine about their loss.
Lee, Winchester

Whilst new powers are needed, new training of police should also be put in place, so powers are not abused
Peter Burgess, Bangkok, Thailand

If the "glorifying" law comes into force, it could become a crime to suggest that a terrorist could have a motive other than simply being evil, such as in the dubious foreign policy of the UK and USA, prejudice (real or perceived) against Islam, and so forth.
Anthony Burns, Cardiff, UK

The actual terrorist or recruiter cares nothing about laws or the society he wishes to destroy. Make any action illegal, however abhorrent, and it will carry on underground, thereby requiring yet more resources to detect and police. At the same time people who wish to participate in democracy are dealt with as potential terrorists by the police. The terror laws will be for the most part used against individuals suspected without proof, and the police will gradually use the laws less as the exception and more as the norm. There are many people who think that by reducing freedom and increasing repressive actions will only send the young and idealistic into the lethal embrace of the terrorists.
Stephen Dowd, London UK

New legislation, ID Cards, Trackers in our cars, won't make an ounce of difference to people who are willing to blow themselves up. All it does is make our lives more difficult and uncomfortable. I have no objection to being searched or questioned, but I do strongly object to the possibility that a law enforcement officer could decide to detain me without having to say why!
Andy G.M. Wood, UK (London)

I should hope the new laws work because nobody wants to be blown up while going to work. And all this liberal talk about sacrificing liberties is just nonsense, the laws are there to protect us and personally I don't mind having my bag searched or questioned by the police because that's their job!!!
Joshua Geesing, Farnham, Surrey

There are enough laws to deal with terrorism, unfortunately they are either not enforced, or are rendered completely useless by the Human Rights Act. If you want to improve safety, remove our signature from this stupid document and start applying our existing laws.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

There is nothing in these new laws that will, in my opinion, have any positive effect
Bob H, Glasgow, UK
The eighteenth century American statesman and patriot Benjamin Franklin said, "Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty". I subscribe to that view. There is nothing in these new laws that will, in my opinion, have any positive effect in preventing terrorism but will have the effect of taking away our freedoms and exposing us to the untrammelled power of the State. Give me the terrorists any day.
Bob H, Glasgow, UK

I fully support the 90 day detention because a suspect may need to be checked out in countries where the civil service, police etc are not able to track what goes on in their countries. Also in some countries there are people in high places who actually support the terrorists. This means that checking out a suspect can take weeks if not months.
John, France

Although I am opposed to the laws even I found it a bit of a stretch to believe they'd ever be used to silence dissent. The detention of a man who is so very obviously not a terrorist because he heckled a government minister makes my blood run cold, and proves that the worse case scenarios are happening right now.
Chandra, England

People who argue that they have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear are those who should be the most worried. Laws that allow you to be locked up on circumstantial evidence for an unlimited period of time have no place in this country and the public need to do everything possible to resist them, regardless of media and political comment.
Neil, London, UK

These laws should already be in force. Everything is so complicated, why not have one law that covers all wrong doings? If you hurt somebody by thought word or deed then you pay a price, make restitution. If the judges used common sense then things would be cleaner and smoother.
Brian M Keith, Ellesmere, England

Existing legislation amply covers what has to be done as the recent detention of ten suspects has shown. Give the police an excuse, or a law, and they'll use it. We'll be the victims from both sides because you can't stop a suicide bomber intent on taking people with him or her. It's as simple as that.
D Ball, Wokingham, UK

I disagree with Walter Wolfgang's politics, but when he was arrested under I felt sick with fear for what is happening to my country. That terror laws may be used (and later apologised for) to prevent the exercise of political liberty demonstrates not only the fallibility of the police, who usually deserve our sympathy and support when they make mistakes, but also the ignorance of our leaders - who forget the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Michael Lakey, Newcastle

What about our freedom to live without being blown up?
Jay Kandy, London
There are many who feel that our safety should not compromise our freedoms. But what about our freedom to live without being blown up? But the police can be overzealous, and should be held accountable if there are abuses.
Jay Kandy, London

I had an experience of wrongful arrest under the old Prevention of Terrorism Act. Despite working with the army at the time and being a serving police constable, I was arrested close to a Ministry of Defence camp as I was in possession of a suspicious accent (I am Northern Irish). Admittedly, it was soon after the Deal bombing and the police were a bit jumpy. But it took some hours to arrange my release even though I was in possession of a valid RUC warrant card, a temporary MOD pass and had documents relating to my role in the base in a briefcase. It frightens me to think what an ordinary citizen would go through in similar circumstances, especially as it seems as if the police are much more willing to use the new powers.
Trevor, London, UK

New laws may not totally work, ie totally eradicate terrorism, but if they offer just one potential terrorist a deterrent then that is enough for me.
Lizzie, Manchester

Would Lizzie from Manchester be prepared to be detained without charge for three months to deter one terrorist? Would Joshua Geesing be so critical of "Liberal talk" if a bag search and questioning lead to three months detention without charge? That is what is at stake here, not what happens to other people, but what might happen to each of us.
Jon G, Huddersfield

A friend of mine was stopped under section 44 of the Terrorism Act when George Bush came to visit the UK. After watching an England football match in a city centre pub, he decided to go to see the evening demonstration unfold. He was stopped because he was mucking about, his real crime (if any), drunk and disorderly, which I believe is an offence already. Yet he and a friend (both nurses) where stopped and questioned, searched and intimidated by the police officers reference to the number of snipers on adjacent rooftops who were 'ready to shoot'. This example and that of Walter Wolfgang shows how easily the terror laws can be enforced and used in very unnecessary instances.
Adam, London

The government has all the laws it needs
Abdallah, Chicago
The government has all the laws it needs to combat any violations of its criminal code, including the 7/7 underground bombings. The politicians always want more power, and they rush to create news laws, to show that they are doing something. Civil liberties, once sacrificed for security, lead to democratic societies aping police states, and people will loose both security and liberty.
Abdallah, Chicago, USA

I've been stopped and checked, but not searched, on a few occasions going through the City. It is a good idea and a needed deterrent to the madness of potential suicide bombers. A spin-off may be the gathering of intelligence on potential terrorists. However, it is obvious that all this activity may not always be 100% effective or accurate. But it may be better than allowing would-be terrorists and criminals complete freedom.
M Monaghan, Norwod, England

I exercised my rights and went for a walk in the glorious Gloucester countryside, just outside the village of Fairford, near where the US Air force keep their B52 bombers, along with my family. This was just after the 'Shock and Awe' attack on Iraq. The police said that my husband, daughter and myself constituted more than a group of two, and that he couldn't allow us to congregate, and he quoted anti-terrorism laws at us. My husband at that time worked for the civil service and was probably more extensively vetted than the policeman who deemed it necessary to split our little group up.
Dixie, Fife

I don't actually care if I am stopped by a policeman and asked a few questions. I am a law abiding citizen and have nothing to hide. I will answer any question put to me without hesitation. But then I am not a drug user, thief or terrorist and while it maybe a little inconvenient this would unnecessary if there were not so many criminals on the street intent on causing mayhem.
John, France

While I have not been affected yet, I am increasingly wary of the police. This is not because I have something to hide, but because I can relate to the 82-year-old who was arrested at the Labour conference. Like him, I can be somewhat outspoken and am quick to criticise what I believe to be injustice.
David R, Plymouth UK

In my opinion it is impossible to legislate terrorism away without completely abolishing all our hard-fought freedoms. It has already been stated that the current legislation wouldn't have prevented the London bombings, and with the events at the Labour Party conference, it seems that he new laws will be used to stifle dissent rather than combat terrorism. Perhaps if we addressed the root causes of terrorism, such as Western foreign policy, we wouldn't be in the situation we are today.
David , Lancs, England





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