Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar:
Regulation, responsibility and internet safety: policy, practicalities and the role of providers
Timing: Morning, Tuesday, 16th January 2018
Venue: Hallam Conference Centre, 44 Hallam Street, London W1W 6JJ
Ensuring legislation effectively mitigates the increasing terror threat
Max Hill QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation
I have been asked to address legislative solutions to the threat from terrorism which we all face in this country, mindful of the atrocities committed on our streets and bridges commencing on 22nd March last year in Westminster.
I accept the title given to me today, which is useful because it serves to underline my role and remit, which is to annually review our terrorism legislation, essentially the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) Act 2011 and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010.
In addressing the title given to me for this short address, we must ask whether and to what extent legislation can ever provide the remedy? I have spoken and written about this many times before:
I am on record, from when I first came into post as Independent Reviewer in March this year, saying that in general we donâ€™t need more terrorism offences, and there may be examples of redundant terrorism offences which time has proved are not as necessary as Parliament thought.
Careful study of the relevant section of the Crown Prosecution Service website reveals that a wide range of statutory offences were deployed in charging terrorism casesÂ recently, including preparation of terrorist acts (section 5, 2006 Act), encouraging terrorism (section 1, 2006), belonging to a proscribed organizationÂ ieÂ ISIS (section 11, 2000, together with inviting support for such an organization, section 12), funding terrorism (section 17, 2000), disseminating terrorist publications (section 2, 2006), Interestingly, training for terrorism under sections 6 and 8 of the 2006 ActÂ was not charged at all in 2015 or 2016. Inciting terrorism overseas was charged once in the same two-year period. Possession of articles for terrorist purposes under section 57 of the 2000 Act was charged once in 2015 and not at all in 2016. Some revision and trimming of the current legislation may yet be possible, and that would be a good thing. In general, I would suggest that our legislators ie Parliament have provided for just about every descriptive action in relation to terrorism, so we should pause before rushing to add yet more offences to the already long list.