By Andrew Porter | The cost of Britain’s “surveillance society” measures is now running at £20 billion, a new report reveals today.
The amount is equivalent to £800 per household and includes £19 billion for the planned ID card system and £500 million for CCTV cameras.
The report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance was highlighted by David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, who stands in a by-election this week on the issue of civil liberties. Mr Davis resigned as an MP after the opposition failed to defeat Government plans to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days.
Mr Davis said: “This is yet further damning evidence of Big Brother’s expensive tastes. ID cards, CCTV, the DNA database and other measures are a huge waste of taxpayers’ money on policies that undermine freedom and are utterly ineffective in fighting crime or terrorism.
“At the same time, the Government has failed to deal robustly with extremists and terrorists, like Abu Hamza. Yet again, this government penalise the innocent, and is a soft touch for the guilty.”
Abu Hamza’s extradition was requested in 2004 by the United States, where he is wanted for terrorism offences.
But despite being convicted of a number of charges in Britain two years ago, he has still not been deported. The cost to taxpayers is estimated at £2.75 million in welfare payments, council housing, NHS bills, trials and legal appeals.
Mr Davis also cited Abu Qatada, known as Osama bin Laden’s “right hand man in Europe”, who has not been deported to Jordan to face terrorism charges because of concern about his human rights. The cost of this is close to £1.5 million.
Yesterday, Mr Davis went head-to-head with a senior member of the Government for the first time since he shocked Westminster by standing down as an MP.
He told Tony McNulty, the Home Office Minister, on Sky News, that the Government had “run away” from a fight with him in the Haltemprice and Howden seat. He added that 42-day detention would “not save a single life”.
He said: “It will undermine some of the fundamental principles of our justice, it will give the terrorists a propaganda coup and it may actually make the threat of terrorism worse.”
But Mr McNulty replied that the “reserve power” had been carefully drawn up. He said: “It is not a universal and permanent extension. Most people get that … David doesn’t for his own reasons.”
Ministers have also denied that the ID card system will cost as much as the TaxPayers’ Alliance report says. In addition, they have insisted that CCTV has the backing of the public and challenged opponents to say which cameras they would “pull down” in the name of civil liberties.