Anti-terror laws to be tightened

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The Independent Online
NEW anti-terrorist measures are being considered by the Home Office following the Bishopsgate bomb attack in London. Proposals include giving the police clearer powers to stop and search vehicles at random and new offences of going equipped for terrorism and gathering information for terrorist purposes.

Senior police officers pressed the Home Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, for greater powers to tackle the IRA threat on the mainland at a meeting last week. Many of these new measures already operate in Northern Ireland.

Police sources said Mr Clarke was 'broadly supportive' and looking for an legislative opportunity to introduce the new package.

The police would also like to see the removal of suspects' right to silence and the creation of a national database of DNA profiles. A royal commission report into the criminal justice system is expected to comment on some of the measures and police believe the Home Office will not act until after it has been published later this year.

Officers also pressed for tighter procedures to make it harder for terrorists to obtain false identity documents. Efforts are already being made to close the so-called Day of the Jackal loophole which enables criminals to obtain a birth certificate of a deceased person and then use it to obtain a passport.

Both Owen Kelly, Commissioner of the City of London Police, and Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, argued for clearer powers to stop vehicles.

They believe that random stops will help disrupt IRA activities and allay public fears about arbitrary abuse of police power. An opinion poll published yesterday found the great majority of City firms favours greater police powers and better co-operation on security.

Only a third of City organisations surveyed in the Financial Times/Mori poll said they were happy with the Government's performance in dealing with the IRA. But security sources said that any new measures would have to be carefully studied to avoid laws being badly framed and handing the IRA a propaganda gift. Scotland Yard said yesterday it had had a good response from the public to the release of video pictures of two men apparently parking the truck containing the Bishopsgate bomb in the City last week.

Police believe at least three separate teams of terrorists were responsible for the City bomb and two explosions in mini-cabs in London later that night.

Three men were still being detained at a London police station under the Prevention of Terrorism Act yesterday.

Special Branch and anti-terrorist officers have been visiting businesses stressing the need for security cameras to be installed and properly maintained to help police trap the bombers.

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