The Offences Against the Person Act 1861
Forbids encouraging murder (s4).
The Government argues that it needs these new additional powers to target extremists and those who support them, but is this true? The answer is an unequivocal NO.
The Government already has a quite incredible arsenal of powers at its disposal, mainly introduced in the last 15 years. Some of these are themselves controversial and are regarded by some as overly broad.
There is a lack of political will to implement existing laws. More legal powers are not the remedy for ‘extremism’.
Forbids encouraging murder (s4).
Criminalises threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour such as swearing and intimidation with intent to cause alarm or distress or to provoke violence (s4, 4A, 5).
Makes it illegal to stir up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds (s18, 29B) (the religious hatred offence was added by The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006).
Makes it illegal to send or deliver indecent or threatening letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety. The law also covers emails and other forms of electronic communications (s1).
Prohibits following a course of conduct that would amount to harassment (s1).
Allows for the banning of non-violent political organisations (s3) “concerned in terrorism”. The 2000 Act also makes it an offence if someone is suspected of supporting a banned organisation (s12).
Permits detention of a terrorist suspect for questioning for 14 days (s306).
Bans sending a menacing or grossly offensive email or other internet communication (s127) and enables the Government to obtain information from an internet provider in the interests of national security (s132).
Allows a Minister, whenever there is the threat of terrorism, to make emergency regulations that can temporarily override other legislation (s20).
Criminalises those who make statements that glorify terrorist acts, even if the person making the statement doesn’t intend to encourage terrorism (s1(1-2)). It also makes it an offence to engage in conduct in preparation for committing terrorism (s5).
Makes it a criminal offence to encourage the commission of an offence (s44).
Allows police questioning of suspects after they have been charged (s22), requires convicted terrorists to notify the police of their whereabouts (s48) and extends extra-territorial jurisdiction of courts for terrorism offences overseas (s29).
Allows the Government to impose financial restrictions on persons suspected of involvement in terrorist or extremist activity or supporting those involved (s2, 11).
Provides new powers for the Home Secretary to impose restrictions on the behaviour that “gives encouragement” to acts of terrorism, through a “TPIM” notice. TPIM notices can include restrictions on movement, financial activity and communication (s2, Schedule 1, Part 1).
Makes it possible for the police to stop persons or organisations causing alarm or distress, or even having a detrimental effect on quality of life in an area (s1, 34, 43).
Allows the Government to impose temporary travel restrictions (s2), require internet service providers to keep data and records on all those using their services (s21) and new security powers for air, rail and sea transport (s22).
The efforts to control extremism and limit protest by those caught by too wide a definition may undermine the very rights and British values you seek to protect
EDOs are too sweeping and too open to abuse. They risk transforming lawful activities into criminal offences in a way that threatens freedom of expression.
It is a profound irony in seeking to protect our values against this pernicious ideology we are trying to bar views too vaguely described as non-violent extremism.
While everyone applauds the principle of tackling Islamic extremism, comments by David Cameron and other senior members of the Government suggest EDOs will exceed even Labour's notorious religious hatred Bill or Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
One can imagine already the powers being used against harmless evangelical street preachers or the like, out of misplaced zeal and a desire to demonstrate that they are not directed against one religion alone.
The Government should have every tool possible to tackle extremism and terrorism, but there is a huge arsenal of laws already in place and a much better case needs to be made for introducing draconian measures such as Extremism Disruption Orders, which are almost unchallengeable and deprive individuals of their liberties.
We “already have a substantial armoury of laws in this country, including the criminalisation of incitement to hatred”.
The Home Office will soon, for the first time, assume responsibility for a new counter-extremism strategy that goes beyond terrorism. It will aim to undermine and eliminate extremism in all its forms – not just Islamist extremism – and it will aim to build up society to identify extremism, confront it, challenge it and defeat it.
You can't protect democracy by undermining democracy…The Government is obsessed with legislation but this is not something you can defeat by legislation. It is a battle of ideas and we have to defeat these ideas by argument, not by banning even having the debate.