Phone-tapping warrants rise 62% since 1990

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Indy Politics
THE MASTER of the Rolls, Sir Thomas Bingham, yesterday said anti-terrorist surveillance had led to a 62 per cent increase in the number of warrants issued to the security services and the police for telephone taps over the past three years.

The number of warrants rose from 473 in 1990 to 756 in 1992, after an increase in the quota on the number that can be signed by the Home Secretary each year. But Sir Thomas said the ceiling should be scrapped.

He said: 'It would be a subject of legitimate public concern if a terrorist atrocity, a major crime or a large-scale drug importation were to occur following reluctant cancellation of a warrant, which would have detected it because some other warrant was thought (in retrospect perhaps wrongly) to be more urgent or more important.'

Sir Thomas confirmed that some organisations were still tapped because they represented 'a threat to parliamentary democracy and so to national security'. There were no warrants currently in force against 'individual subversives' and 'only a very few organisations are currently subject to interception on that ground'.