My Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2017 has been presented to Parliament today. It can be accessed here. This is my final annual report as Independent Reviewer and so I have sought to cover all the statutes I review, namely the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) Act 2011 and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act (TAFA) 2010.

My report addresses the following:
Definition of terrorism
Threat picture
Major Terrorism Investigations in 2017
Proscribed organisations and executive orders
The Terrorism Asset Freezing Etc Act 2010
Stop and search
Port and border controls
Arrest and detention
Criminal proceedings

The question of state terrorism and its inclusion/exclusion from the section 1 of Terrorism Act 2000 definition is ‘work in progress’. I invited my Senior Special Adviser Clive Walker to consider the question, and to review the legal and academic research in this area. He has produced a comprehensive ‘Note on the definition of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000, section 1, in the light of the Salisbury incident’, which I have annexed to my Report. The content and any opinions expressed in the Note are Professor Walker’s, rather than mine, but I am grateful to him for his work and hope that it may fuel debate and indeed further consideration by my successor.

The Annual Report also includes an Executive Summary at the outset and Conclusions and Recommendations at the end.

Had I been able to remain in post as Independent Reviewer, I would have wished to focus upon matters including the following, within the next annual report ‘The Terrorism Acts in 2018’:

  1. The practical implications of repealing Part 1 of TAFA 2010 in favour of a new terrorism sanctions regime under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, on which I have given evidence in Parliament when it was a Bill.
  2. A fresh review of the definition of terrorism within section 1 of Terrorism Act 2000, particularly in light of the changing nature of the threat from international terrorism, including the Salisbury Novichok attack.
  3. A continued focus on the appropriate use of Schedule 7, Terrorism Act 2000, including in Northern Ireland.
  4. A review of the use of stop and search pursuant to section 47A of Terrorism 2000, which occurred in September 2017 for the first time since 2011.
  5. An investigation into any wider ramifications of Brexit in relation to the operation of the legislation which I have reviewed.

Of course, these matters will be for my successor, once identified, to consider and to confirm or reject. I am sorry that my departure for public service in another role prevents me from doing more as Independent Reviewer. I regret that there will be a gap in oversight until the next Reviewer is appointed, but I am confident that the Home Office will make that appointment as soon as possible.

National Security Summit talk

My final day in office will be this Friday 12 October. My departure means that I will be unable to offer any public comment after this week, so I was grateful for the opportunity to offer brief thoughts on some of the themes in my report at a talk I gave yesterday at the National Security Summit. A transcript of that talk can be found here.

I was pleased to receive the Government responses to my reports today. The first Response (cm 9704) dealt with my Annual Report on the Operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016, which was published on 25th January this year, and the second Response (cm 9705) dealt with my Report on the use of terrorism legislation following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, which was published on 28th March.

I did not have prior sight of either Response, but offer the following first reaction to both:

The Government Response to the Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016

I thank the Home Secretary for his kind words in relation to my work as IRTL during ‘what can only be described as a particularly difficult and challenging year’, namely 2017.

Threat picture. Both my predecessor Lord Anderson and I, in reports we produced independently of each other, recommended that JTAC extend its remit to include assessing the threat from domestic extremism. I am pleased that the Government has accepted this recommendation, in particular because the threat we face from extreme right wing terrorism within the UK is considerable, and in my clear view it has grown in reaction to the terrorist atrocities on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and at Manchester Arena last year. Terrorism takes many forms. Extreme right wing ideology breeds terrorism, and must be dealt with comprehensively. Read more…

My Report into Operation Classific, the police investigation into the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on 22nd March 2017, has been presented to Parliament by the Home Secretary today, 28 March 2018. It can be accessed here.

As everyone knows, it is my responsibility to monitor the use of the terrorism legislation (the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010 and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2010) and to report annually to Parliament. I additionally focus on individual major investigations from time to time. My Report on Operation Classific is the first example by me of an investigation report.

It is important to remember that my report is limited to the use of the terrorism legislation by the police in the course of their criminal investigation. Therefore, I have not inquired into the circumstances of the tragic deaths or injuries caused by the terrorist Masood. Indeed, that is the responsibility of the Chief Coroner HHJ Lucraft QC, with whom I have liaised in order to ensure that my report does not trespass into the inquests which are yet to be completed. Finally it has been necessary to redact from my report the identities of the twelve individuals who were arrested by the police, because none of them were charged with any criminal offence.

My overall conclusion (found at page 41) is that there was a reasoned and proportionate use of the relevant terrorism legislation in this case. I have made some practical recommendations, found at page 42; they are that:

  1. Greater thought and clarity be given to the question whether and when it is necessary to transport a detainee sometimes hundreds of miles from their place of arrest.
  2. The introduction of a bail provision for TACT arrests be reconsidered.
  3. Learning outcomes should be identified to ensure that every detainee is given their rights at the earliest moment after arrival at the relevant police custody suite.
  4. Questioning detainees about religion or any other matter occurs with careful thought and planning. Reviewing high-profile investigations can only add to the learning and training for the future. Therefore, in the interest of clarity,  the police should take this opportunity to review training on the circumstances and extent to which detailed questions on religion and other matters will be necessary in future interviews.

 

My first Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 has been presented to Parliament today. It can be accessed here.

This Report deals with the operation of the legislation during the year 2016. It is a feature of the timing of my appointment that my first Report deals with the period before I became Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on 1st March 2017. There was much to consider and review, though I recognise that many readers and commentators will be awaiting my review of the use of our legislation during 2017, in the aftermath of the atrocities commencing with the Westminster Bridge attack on 22nd March last year. With that in mind, I can confirm that I am in the final stages of completing a separate Report into Operation Classific, which was the Police investigation into the Westminster Bridge attack. I hope to present that Report to the Home Office next month.

Meanwhile, the first Annual Report follows a format made familiar by my predecessor, and it addresses the following:
Threat picture
Proscribed organisations and executive orders
Stop and search
Port and border controls
Arrest and detention
Criminal proceedings

As a further echo of my predecessor’s reports, I have asked my Senior Special Advisor, Professor Emeritus Clive Walker QC (Hon) to provide a Guest Chapter, this year entitled:
Executive legal measures and terrorism: proscription and financial sanctions

In this way, I hope that my Report and the Annexes (which include the Guest Chapter) provide useful information on the operation of all four of the statutes which I review, namely the two Terrorism Acts together with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (which I address in the ‘executive orders’ chapter) and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010 (which is addressed by Professor Walker).

The Annual Report also includes an Executive Summary at the outset and Conclusions and Recommendations at the end.