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David Anderson QC is the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. His report, Terrorism acts in 2014, issued in September 2015, notes:

If the wrong decisions are taken, the new law risks provoking a backlash in affected communities, hardening perceptions of an illiberal or Islamophobic approach, alienating those whose integration into British society is already fragile and playing into the hands of those who, by peddling a grievance agenda, seek to drive people further towards extremism and terrorism. [Para 9.30]

Of particular importance is the potential of the new law to affect those who are not its targets.223 No doubt it will be said, with perfect sincerity, that it is intended to make only a handful of individuals and organisations subject to the new orders, and that those who peddle hatred and prejudice in order to sow division deserve nobody’s sympathy. But to speak only of the intended targets does not address the dangers that are inherent in all over-broad laws and discretions: dangers which are present even in the relatively confined area of anti-terrorism law, and which become still more marked as the range of suspect behaviour is extended. If it becomes a function of the state to identify which individuals are engaged in, or exposed to, a broad range of “extremist activity”, it will become legitimate for the state to scrutinise (and the citizen to inform upon) the exercise of core democratic freedoms by large numbers of law-abiding people. The benefits claimed for the new law – assuming that they can be clearly identified – will have to be weighed with the utmost care against the potential consequences, in terms of both inhibiting those freedoms and alienating those people. [Para 9.31]

The latter includes the comment in a footnote: ‘The resentment caused by Schedule 7 examinations (and the former TA 2000 section 44 stop and search power) are further instances of how powers targeted on the few are capable of aggravating the many. This is not to say that powers should not exist: but rather that they should be granted only when they are clearly necessary, and exercised in a manner that minimises both the impact on individual freedom and the risk of counter-productive effects’.

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