'Snoopers' charter': Theresa May vows to implement measures to clamp down on extremist groups

Home Secretary criticised Liberal Democrats for blocking plans

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The so-called “snoopers charter” would be implemented by a Tory government, Theresa May vowed today as she tore into the Liberal Democrats for blocking plans to increase the monitoring of internet and email use.

The Home Secretary set out new measures to clamp down on extremist groups in a speech which concentrated almost entirely on the threat from terrorism at home and abroad.

She told the conference: “The lesson of history tells us that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it.  We must not flinch.  We must not shy away from our responsibility.”

Mrs May said the next Tory manifesto would include a renewed commitment to the Communications Data Bill which would have required phone and internet companies to maintain records of people’s internet, email and mobile phone activity (but not the contents of calls or messages). The measure, first championed by Mrs may two years ago, ran into strong Lib Dem resistance and was finally abandoned.

Turning on the Tories’ coalition partners, she said: “This is outrageously irresponsible because innocent people are in danger right now.  If we do not act, we risk sleepwalking into a society in which crime can no longer be investigated and terrorists can plot their murderous schemes undisrupted.

“We have to give the police and the security services the powers they need to keep us safe, and that is what the next Conservative government will do.”

She warned there had been a “rapid and dangerous” decline in detectives’ ability to access online communications, with the police forced to abandon 20 investigations, including 13 in which a child was at risk of harm.

The Tories are also promising a ban on so-called hate preachers and other extremists being interviewed on television or speaking at public meetings, as well as an extension of ministers’ authority to outlaw groups suspected of encouraging terrorism or violence.

Mrs May warned that the threat from Isis, which is currently closing in on Baghdad, would not be ignored.

“If [Isis] succeed in firmly consolidating their grip on the land they occupy in Syria and Iraq, we will see the world’s first truly terrorist state established within a few hours flying time of our country.

“We will see terrorists given the space to plot attacks against us, train their men and women, and devise new methods to kill indiscriminately,” she said.

“ We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us.”