The media coverage/discussion of the proposed control orders has focussed on several possible things that can be imposed with them: house arrest, tagging, curfews, internet/phone bans and restrictions on who you can communicate with. However upon reading the legislation itself it appears that potentially any obligation could be imposed. Section 1(2) of the bill states:
A control order may impose any obligation on the individual against whom it is made that the Secretary of State considers necessary for purposes connected with preventing or restricting further involvement by that individual in terrorism-related activity (whether or not activity by reference to which the Secretary of State was satisfied for the purposes of subsection (1)(a)).
Section 1(3) of the bill lists numerous examples of such obligations, but does not restrict the control orders to the imposition of such obligations. The possible obligations listed are (to summarise section 1(3)):
- prohibitions/restrictions on the possession of articles or substances,
- prohibitions/restrictions on the use of specified services or facilities or on specified activities,
- restrictions on a person’s work, occupation or on their business,
- restrictions on who one associates/communicates with,
- restrictions on one’s place of residence or who is allowed to access one’s residence,
- prohibitions on being in specified places/areas at specified times or on specified days,
- prohibitions/restrictions on one’s movements to, from or within the UK or specified places/areas in the UK,
- requirements to comply with other prohibitions/restrictions on movement for a period not exceeding 24hrs, by directions given to him in a specified manner by a specified person for the purpose of securing compiance with other obligations imposed by the order,
- requirements to surrender one’s passport or anything other possessions to which a prohibition/restriction relates to a specified person for the period of the control order,
- requirements to grant access to one’s place of residence or other premises one has access to,
- requirements to allow searches of one’s place of residence or other premises one has access to,
- requirements to allow items found in one’s place of residence to be removed and retained by specifed persons for the period of the control order,
- requirements to cooperate with arrangements for enabling one’s movements, communications and other activities to be monitored,
- requirements to provide information to a specified person in accordance with a specified demand,
- requirements to report to a specified person at specified times and places.
Thus it seems to me that a control order, in addition to possible house arrest or internet/phone bans, could require you to leave (or stay) in the country, move to another part of the country, allow your house and workplace to be searched, allow items to be seized from your house or workplace, and much else.
A further possibility arises: because “any obligation” can be imposed if the Secretary of State deems it necessary, perhaps one might even be required to keep the imposition of the control order on you secret from anyone you’re allowed to contact, the excuse being it might alert other “suspected terrorists” that you’ve been surveiled.
Note that even if I’m wrong about an obligation to keep the control order secret, the restriction on association/communication could be used to ensure you cannot communicate with anyone except the authorities anyway!
The powers being given to the Home Secretary, even where falling short of house arrest, are thus extremely wide ranging and could make it impossible for people to defend themselves against the control orders.
Quite simply, this measure is worthy of a tyrannical dictatorship, and would put us in the same league as apartheid era South Africa or Communist East Germany.