The smell of compromise is once more in the air, this time over the controversial issue of control orders. The Lib Dems have been seeking an end to the way in which terrorism suspects can be placed under close supervision – somewhere short of house arrest but involving tags and curfews – without any public evidence of their wrongdoing. Currently nine individuals are living under such restrictions. The Tory right believes equally strongly that control orders should be kept to maintain public safety.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Nick Clegg had won the internal debate and that the orders would be “scrapped”.
My understanding from one coalition source is that ministers are seeking a policy which will please – to some extent – both sides. That is, the orders would be watered down (less onerous terms, for example) but not entirely abandoned. Expect to see movement here in the coming days with the publication of a review by Lord Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions and Lib Dem peer. That fits with David Cameron’s comments today that control orders have not worked and need to be “replaced” – not, you will notice, “abandoned” or “dropped“.
UPDATE: It’s worth reading this Ben Brogan blog on the subject; he has provided some fascinating details about some of those living under control orders.