Monday, November 07, 2005

My advice to Charles Clarke

Charles Clarke apparantly wants to know our views on how we can fight terrorism

In his rush to find out our views the answers to the questions he has come up with could be misinterpreted. I doubt it is likely, for example, that many people will say that the Police shouldn't have the time and opportunity to fully investigate suspected terrorists!

Unfortunatelt the survey form didn't provide an opportunity to add explanatory comments.

I have therefore, being the helpful chap that I am, sent an additional email adding some detail to the YES or NO options available:


Dear Labour Party,

I have just filled in a rather simplistic survey about my views on
fighting terrorism.

The questions were extremely simplistic and the answers will be completely
open to interpretation.

Most online surveys of this type have a general comments box. I would
recommend this in the future.

As I am sure Charles Clarke is interested in arriving at properly thought
through solutions to the threat of terrorism, I therefore thought it would
be helpful if I sent more detailed comments:

Do you think that our laws should be updated to cope with the current
security threat?

I answered NO because there are already more than enough legal measures in
place for the security services to take on terrorism and because I believe
that if we keep changing our laws every time there is a heightened threat
from terrorism then we have already let them win. There are perhaps a few
things the Government could do such as changing the rules on evidence to
allow phone tap evidence etc.

Do you think police should have the time and opportunity to complete their
investigations into suspected terrorists?

I answered YES (and frankly who is going to say NO to such a question?)
and as far as I know no-one is stopping them do this. The security
services do not have a very good track record on this. During the past
four years they have arrested nearly 1,000 people under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act 2000 yet only 23 have been convicted. There are clearly
major problems with the standards of evidence gathering which they need to
improve. Perhaps if they spent more time gathering real evidence and less
time arresting and holding innocent people the results would be better?

Do you think the government should make sure there are new safeguards to
protect innocent people?

I answered YES.

There are three things in particular I would like the Government to do to
protect innocent people:

1 Drop the plans to increase the length of time suspects can be held
without being charged. This is an affront to justice and will do untold
harm to innocent people whose lives will be wrecked.

2 Urgently review the code of practice for police use of firearms.

3 Admit that the basis for invading Iraq was completely wrong and
commit to not making the same mistake again so that thousands of innocent
people don't die again.

I hope Mr Clarke finds these comments helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Fawcett.


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