New powers to arrest

Government critics

The police have been given powers to arrest and detain anybody who voices criticism against politicians or celebrities.

 

By David Hetherington

A British citizen was held for days without charge in a London mental hospital under little-known laws which allow the authorities to move against any individual or groups they claim pose a direct threat to VIPs such as the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Royal Family.

 

The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) was given sweeping powers to check more than 10,000 suspects’ files to identify mentally unstable potential “killers and stalkers” with a fixation against public figures.

 

Indefinite detention

The team’s psychiatrists and psychologists then have the power to order treatment – including forcibly detaining suspects in secure psychiatric units.

Using these powers, the unit have been given Orwellian powers to legally detain people for an indefinite period without trial, without criminal charges or even evidence of a crime being committed. There are limited opportunities for appeal.

 

FTAC is enforced by the police anti-terrorism unit, and so although it technically is a separate branch of law, it is enforced under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act. It works in a similar way to laws in Thailand which ban citizens from saying anything critical of the Thai royal family.

 

Crimes against children

A number of British citizens have already fallen victim to these laws. Activist David Compan was imprisoned without charges in a London mental hospital after he publicly associated himself with the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCC) campaign to hold the Crown of England responsible for crimes against children.

 

Social worker Elizabeth Scully has confirmed to ITCC’s organizer Rhianne Mockridge that David was held for ‘examination’, but Scully initially refused to say where or provide any other details.

David Compan is a friend and supporter of Rhianne and other ITCCS activists in Coventry, who have led occupations of local Roman Catholic churches and are now convening a common law court to enforce ITCCS warrants against convicted felons and child abusers.

 

We understand that after tireless campaigning by the ITCCS, David Compan was released. However, the law which allowed him to be locked up in the first place is still in full effect.

 

FTAC allows the government to imprison indefinitely without charges anyone who is considered to be “fixated” about public figures, “VIP’s”, or members of the Royal Family.

 

Currently the law is vague over what can be considered to be an unhealthy obsession against public figures. Worryingly, no trial is needed to provide evidence of the crime.

Until now, it has been the exclusive decision of doctors and mental health professionals to determine if someone should be forcibly detained.

 

But the new unit uses the police to identify suspects – increasing fears the line is being blurred between criminal investigation and doctors’ clinical decisions.

 

Human rights activists fear the team – whose existence has never been publicised – may be being used as a way to detain suspected terrorists without having to put evidence before the courts.

 

Mental disorder

MP Andrew Lansley was an outspoken critic of the law and said it could be used to target anybody with a religious, political or cultural belief that goes against the norm. He said: “The Government is trying to bring in a wider definition of mental disorder and is resisting exclusions which ensure that people cannot be treated as mentally disordered on the grounds of their cultural, political or religious beliefs.”

The Justice and Security Act or 2013 gives British courts the mandate to hold both criminal – and civil – cases in private and prevent suspects from hearing the evidence against them. It also enhances the powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee – which was established by the Intelligence Services Act in 1994.

 

Gareth Crossman, Policy Director of Liberty is says: “There is a grave danger of FTAC being used to deal with people where there is insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution. This blurs the line between medical decisions and police actions. If you are going to allow doctors to take people’s liberty away, they have to be independent. That credibility is undermined when the doctors are part of the same team as the police.”

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