Insights from the UK and beyond
Is Britain becoming a police state?
We’ve been spooked, says former spook Dame Stella Rimington. The first female head of MI5, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, believes the government has used the spectre of terrorism to restrict our civil liberties.
“It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism — that we live in fear and under a police state,” Rimington told Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper.
Ghoulish stuff and not the first time the former spy has piped up about the apparent erosion of our civil liberties. In the past Dame Stella has been a vociferous critic both of government attempts to increase the maximum amount of time terrorist suspects can be held without charge for up to 42 days and the introduction of ID cards.
Rimington’s view is given some credence by an International Commission of Jurists study that accuses the UK, as well as the US, of enacting “abusive laws and policies” in the aftermath of 9/11.
Do you agree with Dame Stella? Or has the government’s response to terrorism been proportionate to the threat posed?