The Home Office today released statistics on the operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation from 2011-12. The data looks at arrests, outcomes and stop and searches in Great Britain for the 2011/12 period.
Some of the key findings are summarised below:
Terrorism arrests and outcomes
• There were 206 terrorism arrests in 2011/12, up from 126 in 2010/11…Approximately a third of the increase in 2011/12 related to the policing of a demonstration in the last quarter of 2011.
• 35% terrorism arrests in 2011/12 resulted in a charge, down 7% from 2010/11….48% of those arrested for suspected terrorism offences were released without charge and the remaining 17% had alternative action taken against them.
• Of the charges brought in 2011/12, 53% were terrorism-related (excluding Schedule 7 charges), as compared with 59% since 11 September 2001. The main offences for which persons were charged under terrorism legislation since 2001 were possession of an article for terrorist purposes, preparation for terrorist acts and fundraising.
• Of the 50 persons arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) in 2011/12, relating to detention without charge, exactly half were held in detention for less than two days before charge, release or other action. All but three detainees were held in pre-charge detention for seven days or less; those held for longer were held for no more than 12 days, and were subsequently charged by the police
• According to the report, 41% of those charged with terrorism-related offences in 2011/12 had been convicted of an offence, with 44% awaiting trial.
• Data provided by the Crown Prosecution Service shows that 18 of the 23 trials completed in 2011/12 for offences under terrorism legislation resulted in defendants being convicted.
• As at 31 March 2012, 118 persons were in prison custody in Great Britain for terrorism-related offences, three-quarters of whom were UK nationals. Of the 118 prisoners, 19 were classified as domestic extremists/separatists and four were in custody with historic convictions pre-dating current legislation under TACT.
Stops and searches under sections 43 and 47A Terrorism Act 2000
• In 2011/12, no stops and searches were made under s47A of the Terrorism Act 2000. This follows the repeal of s44 and its replacement with s47A. s44, which allowed stop and search without ‘reasonable suspicion’ was ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. In March 2011, the Government changed the powers with a new amendment, s47A, which requires ‘reasonable suspicion’ that an act of terrorism will take place to merit a stop and search.
• In 2011/12 819 stops and searches were carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service under s43 of the Act, a 29% decrease since 2010/11. The purpose of s43 stop and search is to discover whether the person has anything in their possession which may constitute evidence that they are a terrorist.
Port examinations under Schedule 7 Terrorism Act 2000
• In 2011/12 63,902 persons were stopped and examined in a border area in Great Britain under the powers of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Of these, 2,240 persons (4%) were held for over one hour.
The Terrorism Act 2000 and related stop and searches and arrests have been a significant and contentious issues affecting the Muslim community in the UK.There have been allegations of abuse of police powers and in June of this year, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC stated that some aspects of counter-terrorism legislation have been applied with “excessive enthusiasm”. In particular he highlighted that the TA 2000 should be amended to set criteria for extending detention periods, and the need for more constraints needed to be placed on those conducting stop and search under schedule 7 (ports and borders) to prevent its arbitrary use.
The full bulletin is available to download here with additional information available here.
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