Reid: Control orders "far from best option"
Police are hunting Ibrahim Adam, Cerie Bullivant and Lamine Adam
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Thursday, 24, May 2007 08:07
The home secretary has admitted that the government's controversial control orders are "far from the best option" for tackling terrorism.
John Reid's admission to MPs came after police revealed that three terror suspects subject to control orders absconded earlier this week.
Mr Reid, who has come under fire over the disappearance of the men, insisted that public safety was his "top priority" and that he was "not at all complacent" about the situation.
In a statement to the House of Commons, the home secretary stressed that the government and police were doing everything in their power to find the missing trio but were having to operate within the limits placed upon them by parliament.
Mr Reid, who said he sometimes felt the government were "having to fight with one hand tied behind our back" as a result of such limitations, indicated that while control orders were in his opinion not necessarily the "best option" for tackling terrorism they did provide Britain with counter-terror measures that had not been previously available.
Adding that it would be difficult to prevent "determined" terror suspects from absconding, the home secretary also indicated he would be introducing further new anti-terror measures as part of a counter-terrorism bill in the coming weeks.
But shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve insisted that the disappearance of the three terror suspects had been "entirely of the government's own making" and accused the home secretary of failing to adequately police the country's borders.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg previously called for a "wholesale review" of control orders, claiming that news of the missing men represented "yet another hammer blow" for the "increasingly discredited" system.
"This yet again strengthens our case for a wholesale review of control orders, which the government must take up urgently in the upcoming review of terror legislation," he said.
The Metropolitan police revealed yesterday that Algerian born brothers Lamine and Ibrahim Adam, aged 26 and 20 respectively, had failed to contact the company which monitors their movements under control orders imposed upon them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
It is thought that the pair may have joined up with a third absconder, 24-year-old Cerie Bullivant, who also failed to report to his local police station on Monday.
Peter Clarke, the Met's deputy assistant commissioner and head of the force's counter-terrorism unit last night warned the public to ring 999, rather than approach the men, if they spotted them.
Addressing the Commons, Mr Reid confirmed that the trio had been subjected to control orders because the authorities believed that they had intended to travel abroad for "terror-related purposes".
The home secretary acknowledged that the men were "dangerous" but stressed they posed "no direct threat" to UK citizens.
A total of six people have absconded from the controversial control orders since they were introduced in 2005 to deal with cases where there is not enough evidence to bring terror suspects to trial.