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The public are being asked for their views on the operation of important border security powers in a consultation launched by the home office today.
Schedule 7 powers are a key part of the UK’s border security arrangements, designed to help protect public safety by allowing people at ports and airports to be stopped and questioned. The government’s comprehensive review of counter-terrorism and security powers said it would look at schedule 7 powers to ensure they are used as effectively, fairly and proportionately as possible.
The new proposals outlined in the consultation come alongside work already underway to improve the operation of the powers, which include more training for the police on understanding the impact of examinations on communities.
Home secretary Theresa May said:
‘The government takes all necessary steps to protect the public from individuals who pose a threat to national security.
‘Schedule 7 measures form an essential part of the UK’s border security arrangements, helping to protect the public from those travelling across borders to plan, finance, train for and commit terrorism.
‘Examining people at ports and airports is necessary to protect public safety, but we want to ensure these powers are used proportionately, and are effective. This consultation seeks the views of the public to help ensure we get this right.’
Key proposals outlined in the consultation are:
- reducing the maximum legal period of a schedule 7 examination from the current nine hours;
- requiring a supervisory officer to review, at regular intervals, whether an examination or detention needs to be continued;
- requiring examining officers to be trained and accredited to use schedule 7 powers;
- giving individuals examined at ports the same rights to publically funded legal advice as those transferred to police stations;
- amending the basis for undertaking strip searches to require suspicion and a supervising officer’s authority;
- repealing the power to take intimate DNA samples (such as blood and urine) from people detained during a schedule 7 examination.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks.
Notes to editors
1. Schedule 7 powers, contained in the terrorism act 2000, are national security port and border powers which enable an examining officer to stop, search, question and detain a person travelling through a port/airport or the border area to determine whether they appear to be someone who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The use of these powers does not mean that the examining officer believes the person to be a terrorist. The officer does not have to suspect that a person is or has been involved in terrorist activity.
2. The schedule 7 consultation document can be found here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/schedule-7-review. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and close on 6 December 2012.
3. The home secretary announced the outcome of the review of counter-terrorism and security powers on 26 January 2011. The review can be found here: www.homeoffice.gov.uk
4. For further information, please contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.