The Westminster Bridge terrorist attack: a report on the use of terrorism legislation

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.

 

To view a document in Adobe PDF format, you may first need to download a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat reader (opens in new window)