Final update 2017

December 2017.

Having delivered my first Annual Report to the Home Office last month, it was my hope that the Report would be published before Christmas. It is in the nature of Annual Reports that they reflect on the previous year,  therefore this Report deals with the operation of the terrorism legislation in 2016. By the same token, my predecessors report into the operation of the legislation in 2015 was published in December 2016. It is also in the nature of Independent Reviewer reporting that the content is checked for sensitivity before publication by the Home Office and presentation to Parliament. Because I have access to sensitive and secure information, I accept this necessary delay between reporting and publication. That said, it is regrettable that my Annual Report into 2016 will not now be published until the beginning of 2018. I hope it will be available early in the New Year.

In order to address the delay going forward, I have resolved to embark upon writing my Annual Report for 2017 earlier than usual. Whilst it is necessary to await publication of all of the details and statistics from the year under review, I appreciate that there will be a strong public interest in the details of how our terrorism legislation operated when all were under great strain in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks we  witnessed in London and Manchester this year. If I can, I intend to complete my Annual Report for 2017 by the summer of 2018.

This month has been notable for the publication of David Anderson QC’s report, Attacks in London and Manchester between March and June 2017: Independent assessment of MI5 and police internal reviews, December 2017. The content is fascinating. It is also timely, because I am near to completing my report into Operation Classific, the police investigation following the Westminster Bridge attack. My work necessarily follows David’s report, where he looked at the intelligence picture before the event. I resolved to report as quickly as possible on Operation Classific because it was the first of the major investigations during 2017, and because it did not lead to ongoing criminal proceedings (in contrast, for example, to the Finsbury Park incident or the Parsons Green incident). I hope to complete this report within the first two months of 2018, prior to embarking on my next Annual Report as mentioned.

2017 has been a year of tragedy, but also a year of steadfast resilience on the part of all who work so hard to keep us safe. For every right-minded citizen of this country, 2017 has also been a year of outright refusal to be cowed by terrorism. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in whatever way  to perform my work as Independent Reviewer, and I look forward to 2018.