Preventing dissent How Britain’s new police state will radicalise us all
INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, explores the dystopian implications of Britain’s new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, and the efforts to rush it through without public scrutiny.
Counter-terrorism experts who have worked on the frontlines of the UK’s battle against extremism reveal exclusively to INSURGE how the proposed new powers, far from making Britain safer, will criminalise legitimate political dissent and fail to prevent the next terrorist attack — despite generating stupendous profits for a parastical security industry.
In the UK, an insidious secret network of violent extremists is plotting to subvert democracy. The members of this network detest our way of life, and hate our freedoms. Walking amongst us, this dangerous fifth column is exploiting the very laws we hold dear to campaign for the establishment of an extremist, totalitarian state that would police every aspect of our lives based on a fanatical ideology that is devoid of reason.
No, the ‘Islamic State’ is not about to conquer Great Britain. But the neocons in government and industry who profit from fear might well be.
In the name of fighting terror, the UK government, hand-in-hand with the US, is leading the way to turn freedom of speech and dissent into mere formalities that, in practice, have no place in societies that will function, effectively, as full-fledged police-states.
Today, the British government’s controversial Counter Terrorism and Security (CTS) Bill received Royal Assent, after having been passed by the House of Commons on 10th February with minor amendments.
“This important legislation will disrupt the ability of people to travel abroad to fight and then return, enhance our ability to monitor and control the actions of those who pose a threat, and combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism,” said UK Home Secretary Theresa May.
The powers of the new legislation are unprecedented. The government will be able to unilaterally confiscate passports of British citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism, although the threshold for what exactly constitutes a reasonable suspicion is ambiguous.
Terror suspects, deemed as such not on the basis of a fair trial, but purely through secret ‘hearings’ based on secret evidence provided by security service ‘assessments,’ can already be subjected to constant monitoring, electronic tagging, travel bans, limited house arrest, and curfews under Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures. The CST bill will now add forced relocation to that mix.
Police and security services will have enhanced powers of surveillance, including the ability to identify the devices that send communications over the internet.
But perhaps the most outrageous element of the CTS bill is the ‘prevent duty,’ the establishment of a statutory duty on all public sector workers — teachers, lecturers, nurses, GPs and other professionals — to prevent extremism in their institutions. They will have to do that by monitoring nursery children, school children, students, patients, and so on for signs of being at risk to radicalisation.
The ‘prevent duty’ puts the Home Office’s Channel Programme, a scheme coordinated by the Metropolitan Police in certain parts of the UK, on a national legal footing. Under the programme, individuals identified as extreme, or being ‘at risk’ of extremism, must be referred to Channel, which will make an assessment to determine whether the referred individual requires an intervention to deradicalise them, and the kind of intervention they will make.
In 2013, I revealed that the Channel Programme was a covert intelligence gathering exercise. Officially, the government and police claim that people who are referred to Channel are not kept on a database. However, I was told by a former Channel coordinator at a local authority that the Programme did in fact maintain a secret logging system to store all names and profiles of those referred, contrary to public claims.
The government’s new ‘prevent duty’ guidance shows that under the new bill, the government is hoping to retroactively legitimise the secret logging programme in law:
“We expect local authorities to use the existing counter-terrorism local profiles (CTLPs), produced for every region by the police, to begin to assess the risk of individuals being drawn into terrorism. This includes not just violent extremism but also non-violent extremism.”
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