Module PO 3558
How did the introduction of new security measures after 9/11 affects the perception of civil liberties of the population the United Kingdom?
The terrorist attacks of September 11th shaped a new world in terms of security policies. Many democracies around the world have started to introduce strict laws and regulations for fighting global terrorism, which affected civil liberties on many different levels. In the United Kingdom, the Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Emergency Act 2001 empowered the police force and enhanced the government power to intervene in the population lives to prevent acts of terrorism. New Government powers included stop and search, arrest without warrant, electronic surveillance, search of persons and premises are just few of the new security measures that can legally infringe a person's privacy in the United Kingdom. A fair degree of tension accumulated between human rights activists, who have been claiming of a non-proportionate reaction to the events, and the government in charge, who saw it as a necessary move to prevent further attacks. What is clear though, it is that a change over the civil liberties of the population has occurred. But, does the population perceive the civil liberties differently? If no, why? If yes, how does it perceive them then? This research report aims to present the first findings, and demonstrate how the introduction of new security measures has lead the population to perceive a restriction of civil liberties as justifiable for the interest of national security. This would be done by in-depth interviews, a qualitative method which seeks to explore the human perception over the issue. Moreover, the research intends to find a relationship between high threat perception and shift in perception over civil liberties with the support of a quantitative method.
As an International Relations student, 9/11 has been an important part of my studies, starting with the pure understanding of events, to the more complicated causes and controversial consequences of wars and restrictions on civil liberties. However, this time the research looked at it by using an alternative lens, which forced me into a new field of study: the perception of the population. In order to determine if after 9/11 a change in perception over the civil liberties of the UK population occurred, it has been fundamental to understand what the perception was prior to the terrorist attack. Therefore, the research had to look for studies or government's polls to have a background idea of what the population perceived. However, every governmental poll is merely quantitative researches. Successively, it was worthwhile acquiring more knowledge over the effects of 9/11 to civil liberties worldwide, as it would have been crucial point for better framing the possible future interviews and questionnaires. Emphasis had to be put the new legislations, such as the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Emergency Act 2001 in the United Kingdom and the National Security Strategy 2002 and 2006 of the United States, and how they restricted personal liberties for the national interests.
The research was firstly undertaken to assess whether an excess of the government control over the civil liberties might be understood as a threat to the population. Additionally, it also offered the possibility to include a further, deeper and extensive quantitative research over threat perception and how it influences the population likeliness to renounce to different civil liberties. Therefore, a further justification for embarking on this project was to determine whether higher threat perception over the population could signify a shift in perception of the civil liberties.
The literature review will be in a chronological order, following a logical path of appearance of the sources. This will help to understand the...