London – Less than 12 months since the passing of the last ‘overhaul’ of counter terrorism legislation, Boris Johnson’s government is proposing yet more of the same failed policies. This time, farcical measures are being tabled, to the now near £1bn industry, such as ‘lie-detector’ testing merely for their press value.

The new proposals come as part of the The Counter Terrorism (Sentencing and Release) Bill, after the murder of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt by Usman Khan last November on London Bridge. Merritt’s father described the plans as a “cynical, headline-grabbing gimmick to distract our attention”. 

This is a continuation of a trend that has exploited genuine fears to erode due process protections. It has weaponised counter-terrorism against dissent rather than actual violence, enshrined mass surveillance and afforded the state an arsenal of powers over citizens. Paired with the measures included in this new bill, we are not only seeing a complete policy fatigue, but an ‘Americanisation’ of the British judicial and prison system. 

Furthermore, due to the racialised manner in which terror laws operate, the new bill may secure Boris’s government extra votes but the cost will be the complete breakdown of social cohesion as one minority is continuously seen as outcast and dangerous. 

Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE said:

“Over the last decade alone we have had the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010, terrorism provisions in The Justice and Security Act 2013, The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, the The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and now the ‘lie detector’ law. Surely, at some point introspection becomes necessary. It is time the vested interests wishing to emulate a US model of law and order are side-lined and ignored.” 

“The fact is, twenty years of terrorism laws have failed us and made us no more safer. The government is incapable of admitting the obvious.” 

“The government has been throwing money at the problem of terrorism. They have set to increase the budget yet again in a predictable move following the London Bridge attacks to make it a near £1bn industry.”

“It’s hard to understand how the use of lie-detectors, that cannot help secure convictions in a court of law, can actually secure people on our streets. Like Jack Merritt’s father said, it’s a ‘gimmick’, and of incredibly poor taste given the gravity of the issues being addressed.”

“Terrorism offences are extremely broad, and can span from refusing to answer questions at an airport, writing poetry to actual plotting of serious crimes. The previous raft of terror laws already pushed up maximum sentences, which raises questions of the true intent behind these newly proposed measures.”

“CAGE has recently issued a report entitled ‘Beyond Prevent’ with a clear 8-point plan to move beyond this legacy of failed policies and towards building a healthy, safe society for all. We will be writing to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, asking her to correct her trajectory and pursue an alternative policy that is based on principles of justice, not ideological zealousness.”


(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)