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DETECTER (Detection Technologies, Counter-Terrorism Ethics, and Human Rights) is a three-year Collaborative Research Project under the European Union Framework 7 Security programme to co-ordinate and contribute work on detection technologies, counter-terrorism, ethics and human rights.

The partner institutions involved are:

The project benefits greatly from the involvement of the UN Rapporteur for Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Professor Martin Scheinin (EUI, Florence), whose mandate has been a focal point of previous work by some of the collaborators. Prof. T Sorell is PI, and John Guelke is Research Fellow at the UoB.

After 9/11 and the terrorist bombings in Madrid (11 March 2004) and London (07 July 2005), policing and intelligence activity have increasingly focused on methods of preventing future attacks, and not just on identifying the perpetrators of offences already committed. Preventive police work includes the use of detection technologies. These range from CCTV camera-surveillance of suspicious behaviour in public places to secret Internet monitoring and data-mining.

Such technologies raise ethical and legal issues (notably issues of privacy) that must be confronted against the background of the legal and ethical issues raised by counter-terrorism in general. Legal questions arise about counter-terrorism in general, because recent informal co-operation agreements between European heads of government may conflict with pre-existing legal commitments on the part of the same governments to safeguard freedom of association, free expression and privacy. Are significant intrusions into privacy justified by the need to save life or to protect democracy? In particular, within what limits is a policy of preventive policing – policing before a crime is committed – justified?

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