Lib Dem peers secure vital changes to protect civil liberties

Last night, the Lords passed an amendment – tabled by a cross-party group of peers including Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell – that will force the Government to carry out an independent review of its Prevent strategy and publish a report within 18 months.

  • Creating exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area” so that it doesn’t apply to aid workers, journalists, people visiting ill relatives or those attending funerals.
  • Protecting journalism and academic research from the new offence of accessing terrorism-related material online.
  • Requiring the Government to commission an independent review of the Prevent strategy.
  • Limiting new powers to detain people at ports and airports to cases involving national security.

The Prevent strategy has clearly failed to tackle radicalisation.

The Liberal Democrats have long argued that the Prevent strategy has clearly failed to tackle radicalisation and has alienated the very communities we need to engage to combat terrorism.

We have been calling for an independent review of Prevent for years because many in the communities most affected believe Prevent unfairly singles them out.

We have always argued that a completely independent review could reassure everyone that Prevent is effective, and properly targeted on those who could potentially be a danger to society. It is essential that everyone has confidence in Prevent and that we all work together to keep us safe.

We’re pleased Labour have now accepted our arguments and together we have voted to insist such a review takes place.

We have also secured further concessions from the Government on new powers to stop, detain and question people at ports and airports.

Originally, the Bill would have granted these powers in connection with acts that “threaten the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”, but in response to arguments made by our Lib Dem Peers, Ministers tabled amendments to limit these powers to cases involving national security.

This follows a previous defeat for the Government on an amendment which sets out exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area”.