What perceptions do the UK public have concerning the impact of counter-terrorism legislation implemented since 2000?

This report sets out the results of a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of existing research on the perceptions of the UK public concerning the impact of counter-terrorism (CT) legislation implemented since 2000. It was conducted by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT).

The research was undertaken over a ten-week period, commencing in September 2009 and completing in November 2009. The search processes, analysis, synthesis and presentation of findings followed the basic principles of an REA.

Three inter-related themes of perceptions were found within the limited evidence base.

Discrimination
There was both quantitative and qualitative evidence showing that samples of Muslim communities perceive some aspects of CT legislation to be unfair, unjust and discriminatory. The evidence shows that elements of the Muslim communities generally feel they are being ‘treated differently’ since terrorist events such as 9/11 and 7/7. However, it is unlikely that these perceptions have been brought about solely through the introduction of CT legislation.

Civil liberties/human rights
Opinion polls and surveys seeking to be representative of the general UK population tend to show majority agreement, or support for, certain CT measures even though they may erode civil liberties. However, the evidence shows there to be less support within samples of UK Muslim populations who have stronger negative perceptions of CT legislation and perceived violations of civil liberties and human rights.

Confidence in UK authorities
The evidence base from this REA shows that samples of UK Muslims, when discussing CT legislation, articulate a lack of trust in the police and have less confidence that they will be treated fairly by UK authorities (Government and the judiciary). Low confidence and trust towards UK authorities could have a detrimental effect on the willingness of Muslim communities to accept and support current and future CT legislation. However, these findings do not entirely reflect other rigorous research (outside the scope of this REA) on wider criminological, judicial and civic issues which show relatively good levels of confidence.

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