Home Office wins High Court judgement on maintaining powers to keep citizens safe

Security Minister Ben Wallace

Security Minister Ben Wallace

The Home Office has welcomed a High Court judgement upholding the lawfulness of the data retention regime outlined in the Investigatory Powers Act. The High Court handed down its judgement in favour of the Conservative Government following a legal challenge delivered by civil liberties and Human Rights campaign group Liberty.

While the Government had already conceded that aspects of Part 4 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 which concerns communications data retention were inconsistent with EU law, and has committed to bring forward amendments to remedy these inconsistencies, Liberty claimed that the communications data regime as a whole should be abolished.

Communications data is an essential tool for law enforcement and national security investigations. Among many other purposes, it’s used to investigate crime, support or disprove alibis and link a suspect to a particular crime scene. The High Court ruling means that crucial powers which are used by law enforcement every day to prevent and detect crime and to keep people safe will be maintained.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said: “We are delighted that the High Court has agreed with the Government on all counts in this judgement. For years, Liberty has created misplaced fear about this legislation, and we’re pleased that the Court recognises the importance of communications data in fighting crime and keeping families and communities safe. This sensible and pragmatic judgement correctly balances all the rights of individuals with protecting people’s security. In the 21st Century, if we are to safeguard our citizens from threats posed by terrorists we simply must have these capabilities.”

In a detailed analysis, the High Court found that the Government’s current data retention regime is neither general nor indiscriminate, stating: “We do not think it could possibly be said that the legislation requires, or even permits, a general and indiscriminate retention of communications data.”

The Government has already committed to bring forward amendments to its regime for Parliament to debate and vote on, along with the Communications Data Code of Practice, and will do so in line with the High Court’s timetable.

Communications data is used in 95% of serious and organised crime prosecutions handled by the Crown Prosecution Service and has played a significant role in every Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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