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The diaTribe blog is our occasional take on life, the universe and everything. Observations on current affairs, the environment, politics, humour and music/gig reviews. Travel diary and extreme sports stories, along with the usual rants/raves are also chucked in for good measure.

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Apr11

Rant: Terrorism Power Abuses – Off and Running

Poole

News this week that Poole council has used legislation designed to combat terrorism, to spy on a family suspected of trying to cheat the school catchment system is the first publicly reported abuse of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), but I’m sure it won’t be the last…

Civil rights groups such as Liberty (rightly it now appears) have expressed concerns about these powers since the tabloid-led knee-jerk reaction policy frenzy, which followed 9/11 and 7/7 which created acts such as RIPA. They argued that existing anti-terrorist legislation already in place in the UK since the early 1970′s to combat terrorist attacks by IRA cells were still relevant enough to be used to deal with the new threat of Islamic extremism. There was therefore no need to introduce further legislation.

Unfortunately the Daily Mail-reading public and the government disagreed and railroaded through a raft of new legislation, ostensibly to address the new terror threat, but which – from a practical perspective at least – has done little more than to revoke the civil rights of millions of law abiding citizens. The warnings that legislation such as RIPA would be open to misinterpretation and abuse by government agents fell on the usual (deliberately) deaf ears.

And instead of bringing to account the council responsible for this gross infringement of civil rights of the very citizens they are supposed to represent, the government has remained strangely silent, preferring to conveniently consider this issue as a ‘local’ matter.

Furthermore Poole council hasn’t even made any form of token apology or acknowledgement that legislation designed for use in extreme life-threatening cases has been blatantly abused by an over-zealous council in an out-of proportion response to a minor clerical issue. And they don’t seem the least bit sorry about it!

Fortunately for the average citizen, the government seem to have again shot themselves in the foot (who needs terrorists?) – this incident has come to light, just as the government attempts to push through a further change to the law to allow the Home Office to hold terror suspects in custody up to 42 days…and the backlash is becoming apparent.

I suggest you contact your MP and make it clear how YOU want them to vote on the amendments to the Counter Terrorism Bill.

PS: The family investigated by Poole council were found to be entirely innocent of the allegations made by the council.

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