People in Britain divided over use of torture

William JordanUS Elections Editor
December 11, 2014, 9:40 AM GMT+0

British people are divided over whether torture can ever be justified – but overwhelmingly think that British intelligence services have tortured

The Tuesday release of a long-awaited U.S. Senate report detailing the CIA’s use of "enhanced interrogation techniques", viewed by many as torture, has led to widespread denunciations of the practices and calls for prosecution of those who used them. The report revealed that the CIA engaged in practices far more ‘brutal’ than previously known, or admitted by the CIA themselves.

New research by YouGov, conducted partially before and partially after the report was made public, reveals that one in two people believe there are “no circumstances where it would be justified” for British security services to use torture. A third (34%) of people say there are such circumstances. 15% aren’t sure.

However, when it comes to British security services using information obtained this way, public opinion is much more favourable. Here, the numbers are flipped: 47% say there are circumstances where it’s justified, and 34% say there are not. 19% aren't sure.

One of the conclusions of the Senate report was that the information gained through torture did not lead to the prevention of any major terror attacks.

Regardless of whether they think it should be done, people generally think British operatives have themselves used torture in recent years. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say British intelligence services have tortured since 9/11, while just 8% believe they have not and the remaining 28% aren’t sure.

PA image

See the full poll results