The Terrorism Acts in 2017 (October 2018)

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.

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