They've got the power

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’.


The Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Forbids encouraging murder (s4).

The Public Order Act 1986

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).

The Malicious Communications Act 1988

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).

The Harassment Act 1997

Prohibits following a course of conduct that would amount to harassment (s1).

The Terrorism Act 2000

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).

The Criminal Justice Act 2003

Permits detention of a terrorist suspect for questioning for 14 days (s306).

The Communications Act 2003

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).

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004

Allows a Minister, whenever there is the threat of terrorism, to make emergency regulations that can temporarily override other legislation (s20).

The Terrorism Act 2006

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).

The Serious Crime Act 2007

Makes it a criminal offence to encourage the commission of an offence (s44).

The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

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).

The Terrorist Asset Freezing etc. Act 2010

Allows the Government to impose financial restrictions on persons suspected of involvement in terrorist or extremist activity or supporting those involved (s2, 11).

The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (TPIM)

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).

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

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).

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

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

Sir Peter Fahy

Former Chief Constable, Greater Manchester Police

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.

Peter Tatchell

Human rights campaigner

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.  

Baroness Manningham-Buller

Former Director General of MI5

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.

The Christian Institute

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.

Sir Jonathan Evans

Former Head of MI5

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.

National Secular Society

We “already have a substantial armoury of laws in this country, including the criminalisation of incitement to hatred”.

Dominic Grieve MP

Former Attorney-General

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.

George Osborne

Chancellor of the Exchequer

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.

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