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Re-Balancing Security and Justice - The Reform of UK Counter-Terrorism Legislation

Commentary, 21 May 2012
Law and Ethics, Terrorism
UKTA Number 3. This paper argues that the key political question for the Coalition Government to address is how far intelligence agencies should keep secrets to themselves and at what point greater transparency should indeed be demanded.

This paper argues that the key political question for the Coalition Government to address is how far intelligence agencies should keep secrets to themselves and at what point greater transparency should indeed be demanded.

UK Terrorism Analysis Number 3

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Contributors: Lord Alex Carlile, Professor Michael Clarke, Dr. Tobias Feakin and Margaret Gilmore

scalesofjusticethumbThrough the forthcoming Justice and Security Bill, the UK Government is attempting to address the imbalance between effective security operations and civil liberties.

Since 2000, the UK has introduced a series of legislation to deal with the changing terrorism threat. Whilst this has helped counter-terrorism agencies, it also generates debate about the need to balance the security of the public with civil liberties. The current Coalition GovernmentJustice and Security Bill is the latest attempt to address the issue.

Key Findings

  • The balance between what is legally and politically acceptable in countering the terrorist threat is unlikely to be achieved by the Government in the immediate future
  • Arguments that Closed Material Procedures may not be compatible with European human rights law are not supported by specific case law. Instead, their introduction could represent an optimal legal compromise between security and liberality
  • The key political question for the Government to address is how far intelligence agencies should keep secrets to themselves and at what point greater transparency should indeed be demanded
  • In spite of the decision that no further appeals will be allowed, the failure of the UKindependently scrutinised process should be put in place to deal with similarly difficult cases in the future
  • The success of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (which replaces Control Orders) depends on close monitoring of applications and the allocation of sufficient resources

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