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No. 10 Downing Street webchat with Home Secretary John Reid 27th Feb 2007 15:00 GMT

The Number 10 Downing Street website has announced an online web chat with Home Secretary John Reid:

Question the Home Secretary

20 February 2007

John Reid will be online on 27 February to answer your questions in the latest of our Policy Review webchats.

The Home Secretary will appear from 1500 GMT for about an hour on the theme of Security, Crime and Justice.


Technological advances will offer us new weapons to prevent and detect crime but there are worries that they may infringe on our civil liberties.

Send in some questions to this moderated online web chat:

We will be stunned if John Reid actually answers any difficult questions without resorting to the standard NuLabour slogans and fake statistics.

Is it worth compiling a list of his likely phrases and slogans, and playing buzzword bingo ?


Your first 2 links are broken...

@ Chris - thanks for spotting the, hopefully now fixed, errors.

How about,

modify freedoms
rights and responsibilities

He might use:

  • "hard choices"

  • "record numbers of police on the streets"
  • "victims first"
  • "strengthen our borders"

He is unlikely to use:

  • "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime"

  • "not fit for purpose"
  • "innocent until proven guilty"
  • "habeas corpus"

The webchat has still not yet started

Questions on:

mobile phone penalties,
gun crime sentences,
the role of the media
National Service
Hampshire police

Score 1 for the "record number of police" - buzzword !

Robert Groves: Home secretary. Why are the Police Service in Hampshire cutting down on police numbers by 76 front line officer they say not enough goverment funding, they need to save £1 million to balance the budget ,by reducing front line officers surely that will not be cost effective when anti social behaviour is on the increase, cost local council more to repair the damage done, Police on the streets would both prevent or arrest those reponsible.? like in the passed.

John replies: The truth is Robert that Hampshire, like every other police service in the country, is receiving more money than ever before. We have a record number of police in England and Wales at 140,000. And on top of this we are heading for 16,000 police community support officers. On top of this again, we have more ancilliary staff than ever before. Put simply, police staff numbers have increased by over 20,000 since 1997 and poilce funding has increased by almost 80% (39% in real terms). However, police chiefs locally have always asked for more responsibility and more power to vary their own numbers between officer numbers, equipment, cars, police community support officers etc so that they can maximise their own capabilities by combining these elements to suit themselves in the local area.

The first ID Card scheme Question:

T Robbins: Why should I be prevented from having a passport merely because I wish to keep my private information secure by keeping it away from your proposed intrusive and unsafe 'National Identity Register'?

John replies:

Dear Mr Robbins, obviously everyone needs a passport if they want to travel abroad. Increasingly country after country is going to require a biometric passport or visa (eg the USA already does) - ie a passport with your fingerpriint or the iris of your eye or exact facial features. If you are going to have biometric passport with that feature their obviously has to be a record of the feature to check it against. If there is a record of features, there is therefore a register.

Incidentally, the use of biometrics is intended to protect the individual. One of the greatest threats to indivdiuals and to our country as whole is the theft of identities. It is the major element in identity fraud (credit cards, bank accounts etc), internet theft, organised crime and terrorism through the use of multiple identities. It is not entirely safe now even with a pin number to go and withdraw money from a "hole in the wall" because people can discover your pin number. The one thing they would not be able to replicate on your passport or on an ID card is your fingerprint or your iris. That's the benefit of identity management and having a register against which to check it.

Can John Reid really not see that a fingerprint, which can be copied from locations and equipment when the owner is not present, and which cannot easily be changed is actually a less secure] system than a PIN which can be revoked and changed when it falls into criminal or enemy hands ?

Andrew Lewin: Recent criminal justice reforms have angered civil liberties groups as going too far: so where do YOU feel the line is between the needs of security and the rights of individual freedom? What 'red lines' would you NOT consider crossing?

John replies: The truth is that all of our liberties are under threat from extremist terrorists who have a contempt for the liberties that we value so much. Therefore, we need to protect them and in a civilised society people accept that requires some curtailment on our own liberties. For instance, while everyone agrees on the desirablitlity of freedom of speech, most people agree that it has to be curtailed when it comes to racist remarks or encouraging hatred against others. It is that balance which is always difficult to achieve, but I am proud that in this country we are amongst the most libertarian in the world, though we are under one of the greatest threats from terrorism.

Many people see the threat too ur liberties and freedoms as coming directly from John Reid and his NuLabour government colleagues and apparatchiki, as they help to achieve the aims of the terrorists who wish to destroy our society.

John replies: Dear Nerissa, thank you very much. I wlll commend your cousin's work to my officials.

Gordon Friel: would Mr Reid share my concern about media reporting.

whilst we need a free press and we need to be informed
do recent event show the news to be over zealous and indeed compromising for authorities.

Sometimes it appears that the media actual give enough information to assist acts, for example giving out bomb making ingredients.

I do not wish our press/broadcasters gagged but feel that
a code of "responsibility" is perhaps needed.

thanks for your time

John replies: Thanks Gordon. I have a great deal of sympathy with the points you raise. The best discipline on these matters is self-discipline by the press.

How does John Reid plan to censor the internet then ?

Mr. Robert Allen: I am becoming increasingly concerned at the growing number of offenders of foreign origin who are commiting crime and filling up our prisons. Are there any checks on theIr police record from the country which they come before they are allowed to be residents in our country.We need to know that there are some protections.

John replies: Dear Robert, I share your concern. We do what we can in sharing of data but the truth is until we get identity cards for foreigners, as this government proposes, and use biometric identitty managment (fingerprints, iris etc) we cannot be confident of cracking this problem the way we should. That is why the Government is so committed to biometric ID cards, first of all for foreigners, biometric passports and British ID cards. Without these, we cannot begin to track people in and out of this country, combat organised crime, tackle illegal immigration or counter terrorism. That is why I constantly invite everyone else including all Parliamentarians to support us on this.

It is rubbish to claim that the ID Card Scheme is the only effective way to "track people in and out of this country, combat organised crime, tackle illegal immigration or counter terrorism." !!

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