Public 'back surveillance over control orders'

Control orders are a controversial part of Labour's counter-terrorist measures
Control orders are a controversial part of Labour's counter-terrorist measures

By staff

The public are keen to find alternatives to the use of control orders, a leading civil liberties group has claimed.

Liberty cited the results of a YouGov survey this week which found that a slim majority of people preferred intensive surveillance of terror suspects over the use of control orders.

The findings come as the government prepares to announce its policy on the orders, which are accused of sidestepping British standards of law.

"Innocent people can have their lives ruined without charge or trial and guilty ones can disappear without a trace," Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said.

"In the week that the prime minister announced his intention to replace the disastrous scheme, our poll shows that when you offer people a viable alternative, they are keen to explore it."

Forty-six per cent of those polled preferred tackling terror suspects through intensive surveillance with a view to prosecution, compared to 40% who preferred the control order system.

There were serious concerns from civil liberty advocates at the start of the week that the government was preparing to U-turn on its commitment to scrapping control orders.

Home secretary Theresa May was said to be committed to keeping the measure, despite claims that allowed indefinite removal of freedom without charge. The emergence of several ex-ministers calling for it to be retained seemed to bolster her case.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was understood to be pushing hard for a change.

Comments from David Cameron yesterday appeared to suggest that his deputy had won the argument and that control orders would at least be substantially reformed.