Friday, 27 February 2009

Freedom Bill

I am grateful to Jonathan Calder (Liberal England) for this posting:

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem shadow home secretary, sets out the case for the bill in a Guardian article:
The Liberal Democrats are determined to resist the slow death by a thousand cuts of our hard-won British liberties. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was a warning, not a blueprint. Yet the Big Brother society that he satirised is growing before our eyes. Our forebears who fought so hard for the rights we have had stripped away would be shocked at what we've lost.
He also lists the 20 measures in the bill to "restore the fundamental rights that have been stripped away in recent years":
  • Scrap ID cards for everyone, including foreign nationals.
  • Ensure that there are no restrictions in the right to trial by jury for serious offences including fraud.
  • Restore the right to protest in Parliament Square, at the heart of our democracy.
  • Abolish the flawed control orders regime.
  • Renegotiate the unfair extradition treaty with the United States.
  • Restore the right to public assembly for more than two people.
  • Scrap the ContactPoint database of all children in Britain.
  • Strengthen freedom of information by giving greater powers to the information commissioner and reducing exemptions.
  • Stop criminalising trespass.
  • Restore the public interest defence for whistleblowers.
  • Prevent allegations of "bad character" from being used in court.
  • Restore the right to silence when accused in court.
  • Prevent bailiffs from using force.
  • Restrict the use of surveillance powers to the investigation of serious crimes and stop councils snooping.
  • Restore the principle of double jeopardy in UK law.
  • Remove innocent people from the DNA database.
  • Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.
  • Scrap the ministerial veto that allowed the government to block the release of cabinet minutes relating to the Iraq war.
  • Require explicit parental consent for biometric information to be taken from children.
  • Regulate CCTV following a Royal Commission on cameras.
This will not, I trust, remove CCTV cameras from our public areas, where they are popular in giving shoppers, parkers etc. reassurance. Rather, the regulations should govern who sits watching the screens and what use is made of the recorded "footage".


Anonymous said...

What about being able to take still or video photos of coppers? Not so long ago, CCTV evidence was used against two serving police officers who were physically abusing two dogs. If this video footage was taken today, the owners of the cctv recording equipment who took this footage could be facing 10 years in gaol!!!

Frank H Little said...

Oh yes, that has to be part of the reforms.