27 Jan 2011

Changes to British counter-terrorism measures

1:00 pm on 27 January 2011

The British government is repealing some counter terrorism measures, after a review of existing powers.

Police powers to stop and search people will be limited and some of the restrictions on terrorism suspects will be eased.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures would be more "focused and flexible".

Control orders place terrorism suspects under close supervision that some say is similar to house arrest.

Critics have said the new system is little more than "control orders lite".

The existing regime should now be scrapped by the end of the year

As with control orders, T-PIMs will require the Home Secretary's

permission with reviews by the High Court.

The BBC reports the measures will be limited to two years, but will be able to be extended if there is new material that the individual still poses a threat.

They will also require overnight residence of eight to 10 hours, which will be verified by an electronic tag.

Currently curfews can last for up to 16 hours.

The Home Secretary said this would be more flexible than a curfew and a controlee could stay away from their home address with permission.

Some measures will stay, such as a ban on overseas travel, the requirement to regularly report to the police and a breach of these conditions leading to a maximum five-year jail term.

There will be limited restrictions on communications including the use of the internet, but controlees will be able to use it at home as long as they notify authorities of their password.

According to the Home Office, these measures are not as restrictive as now.

In addition, the power of police to hold a suspect without charge for 28 days has been scrapped and the time limit will now be 14 days.

A BBC political correspondent says it's been a difficult issue for the coalition government - with the smaller partner, the Liberal Democrats, committed to scrapping many of the measures and the Conservatives more worried about the risks to national security.