'Anti-terrorism is getting out of proportion'

David Allen Green at Jack of Kent:

"In the 1970s and 1980s, the British mainland was under constant threat from terrorism; the news of another incident sometimes did not even make the top item on that evening's news. In a way, the fact there was actual terrorism helped keep day-to-day things in proportion; people just carried on.

Like David, I vividly remember living in Britain under the threat of the IRA. I spent my teenage years living on an RAF base. My schoolbag was searched by armed guards every time I came home. That was perfectly sensible; an RAF base is, after all, a clear terrorist target.

However, over the last decade we've been encouraged to think of the entire country as being a similar target. Any one of us, therefore, can be stopped in the street and have our bags searched. As David says in the comments on his post, after more than 100,000 searches carried out by police under anti-terror legislation there were no arrests for terror related offences. Illiberal policies serve only to increase fear and do the terrorists' job for them.

That means people being held by the authorities without being told why or shown the evidence against them, innocent photographers being stopped by police simply for taking pictures of buildings (as if, somehow, this will thwart terror plans), and even a man prosecuted for making a terror-related joke.

Obviously, our intelligence services must continue to work against those who would do us harm. Obviously, sensitive targets, such as airports, should have tighter security measures than, say, a Tube station. However, the measures should be proportionate to the threat.

As the Vancouver Sun reported earlier this week, there were very few terrorist attacks - whether successful, failed or foiled - in all of Europe in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available. Of the 294 attacks across the entire EU, the overwhelming majority (80%) were carried out by regional separatists - a threat that carries little risk in Britain.

I'll leave the conclusion to David: "What is happening to our society is not because of terrorism; it is because those who wish to exercise and extend power have found a perfect excuse in terrorism."