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British bill would boost police power

May 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

LONDON — The British government is drafting new anti-terrorism legislation that would allow police to stop and question individuals even without suspicion of a crime, the Home Office said Saturday.

Under the legislation, officers could stop and interrogate people about their identity and where they had been or were planning to go -- powers they already have in Northern Ireland.

Police now have the right to stop and search individuals on "reasonable grounds for suspicion" that they have committed an offense, but officers have no right to ask about their identity and recent movements.

The proposal would be part of a new anti-terrorism bill being prepared by outgoing Home Secretary John Reid.

The move coincides with Prime Minister Tony Blair's denunciation of critics of the government's approach to tackling terrorism. In an editorial in the Sunday Times, Blair accused activists, opposition lawmakers and judges of putting civil liberties ahead of Britain's security.

"I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment," he wrote.

Blair, scheduled to leave office June 27, wrote that the terrorism threat faced by Britain is incomparable to anything that has come before and must be "confronted with every means at our disposal."

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