LONDON (AFP) - Home Secretary John Reid has announced plans for new anti-terrorism laws on Thursday after it emerged that three terror suspects had absconded from a controversial form of loose house arrest.
Lamine and Ibrahim Adam, aged 26 and 20, and Cerie Bullivant, 24, are on the run after failing to report to police Tuesday, as required by the so-called control orders, a form of house arrest for terror suspects.
The Adams pair are the brothers of Anthony Garcia, 25, who was imprisoned last month for his involvement in a fertiliser bomb plot aimed at attacking targets in London and across Britain.
Their disappearance is the latest embarrassment for the government over control orders -- there are currently 17 in effect and a total of six people have now absconded.
In a statement to parliament, Reid said that orders were imposed on the men "because it was believed that they wanted to travel abroad for terrorist-related purposes."
"They are dangerous and we can take nothing for granted, even though the security services' assessment is that they are not considered at this time to represent a direct threat to the public here in the United Kingdom," he added.
But the head of London's Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, appeared to contradict this by saying there was no guarantee they were not a threat to people in Britain.
Lord Alex Carlile -- the government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation -- has said there is "solid intelligence" that the men wanted to target British and US soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere.
Reid also threatened to reignite a rumbling row with judges, MPs and civil liberties campaigners by introducing new legislation to bolster control orders.
"Within the next few weeks, I will be outlining further measures to combat terrorism which we propose to include in a new counter-terrorist bill," he said.
He indicated he would consider taking the radical step of opting out of the European Convention on Human Rights if necessary.
Control orders, which are made by the home secretary, were introduced in 2005 after the government was forced to abandon detention of security suspects without trial when judges ruled it incompatible with human rights law.
Since then, ministers have repeatedly argued that their efforts to deal with terror suspects have been hamstrung by this move.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that control orders were "very much a second best option" and "not a strong method of keeping people under control."
"Unfortunately, we were unable to maintain the legislation which we wanted to do which would give us the power to detain people and, in the end, that is the best protection for the British people," he told reporters.
But civil liberties campaigners argue that the orders are no substitute for due legal process.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said that she hoped control orders would be reconsidered under Blair's successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who takes over at the end of June. Reid has also said he will step down from the government when Blair goes.
"We look forward to a new prime minister and home secretary leading a cross-party, non-party consensus that rejects blustering rhetoric for unity in bringing terror suspects to real British justice within the rule of law," she said.
Carlile said in February that plans to replace control orders must be put in place "as a matter of urgency."