The Terrorism Acts in 2013 (July 2014)

My annual report into the operation of the  Terrorism Acts was laid before Parliament by the Home Secretary at 10.30 this morning.  A pdf of the report is here,  and it appears on the gov.uk website here.

The accompanying press release is here.

Among the topics covered in a comprehensive review of recent practice are:

  • recent developments in proscription and deproscription (chapter 5)
  • alleged ethnic or community bias in the use of police powers (6.15-6.19 and 7.7-7.15)
  • reform of the Schedule 7 port power,¬†with the Government’s latest response to my recommendations of November 2013¬†(chapter 7)
  • developments¬†concerning¬†arrest and detention (chapter 8)
  • difficulties posed by UK counter-terrorism law for aid agencies and peacemakers operating in conflict zones (9.25-9.33)
  • the worldwide reach of UK counter-terrorism law, and its treatment of foreign fighters in Syria and elsewhere¬†(9.15-9.17, 10.60-10.70)
  • the definition of terrorism, as discussed on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (chapters 4 and¬†10)
  • the future of independent review, in the light of new demands placed on the Independent Reviewer, and recent Government proposals that¬†his office¬†be replaced by a Board (chapter 11).

Government Response  (Cm 9032, 12 March 2015)

This is a thoughtful response with new information relating to the threat and the funding of counter-terrorism.

It is noted that one of my recommendations on the definition of terrorism (a reduction in the definition of ‚Äúterrorism-related activity‚ÄĚ) has been given effect in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.¬† The other recommended changes are not ruled out, but judged ‚Äúpremature‚ÄĚ since the UK definition of terrorism is ‚Äúthe material focus of ongoing litigation‚ÄĚ in Beghal (currently before the Supreme Court) and Miranda (currently before the Court of Appeal).

Decisions on my recommendations regarding clarification of and change to Schedule 8 (detention) are also deferred pending the outcome of litigation, this time¬†the long-running Sher¬†and Duffy cases in Strasbourg.¬† Sympathy is however expressed for the recommendation ‚Äď which I consider unanswerable ‚Äď that the detention clock under s41 should be stopped as it is under PACE on admission of a suspect to hospital.

Developments are noted on a number of other fronts including Schedule 7 (where my recommendations are recalled in the context of technical changes to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015), the EU opt-out and the establishment of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, the details of which are still under consideration by Ministers.