'Stop and search zones' along mile-wide border in Northern Ireland proposed by Bill in Westminster
A number of human rights activists have opposed the Bill.
A Bill which aims to "update and close gaps" in existing counter-terrorism legislation – which would see the construction of a heavily-policed Nothern Irish border – has been working its way through Westminster.
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill's aims to tighten current UK counter-terrorism legislation, including provisions that would extend existing offences related to showing support for proscribed organisations.
Consequentially, the Bill would also introduce strict new border policing powers between the North and South of Ireland.
In practical terms, it would allow for members of the public to be stopped, searched and detained within a mile-wide strip of the border while travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
This would also apply to train stations if “it is the first place at which a train travelling from the Republic of Ireland stops for the purposes of allowing passengers to leave”.
It would also permit police officers to enter and search the homes of members of the public to "assess risks", and permit harsher punishments for repeat offenders.
Proposals have passed committee stage and will next be considered at Report Stage in the House of Commons before continuing on to the House of Lords, pending approval.
Concerns regarding the Bill have been raised by a number of human right activists, including Northern-Irish based Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) who claim that the implementation of such a system would create a "post-Brexit ‘fortress UK’."
It's understood that the group fear powers could lead to the "hardest of hard borders".
CAJ director Brian Gormally has voiced concerns about the proposed bill, claiming that the 'stop and search zones' would risk undermining efforts to maintain an invisible border.
“Will we see a kind of militarised zone along the border, where roving patrols can stop and question any person, resident or traveller, without any kind of justification?" Gormally said.
Details on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19 can be read in full here.