Select Committee on Home Affairs Sixth Report


3 Developments since 9/11

Terrorism-related incidents in the United Kingdom

36. Events in the united Kingdom linked to the threat of international terror and al Qaeda include the death of three young British Muslims (two of them from Luton) during American bombing at the start of the campaign in Afghanistan in October 2001. For attempting to blow up a transatlantic flight in December 2001 with a bomb concealed in his shoe, Richard Reid, a British citizen, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States in February 2003. In January 2003 it was claimed that ricin had been found in a flat in Wood Green and four men were later charged with chemical weapons offences. In February 2003 troops and tanks were stationed around Heathrow following an alert. Other high-profile operations included the arrests in March 2004 of eight young men following raids on 24 addresses in the south of England, which led to the seizure of 600 kilos of ammonium nitrate: six men were later charged with terrorism offences. In April 2004 there was widespread coverage in the British media of the arrests on suspicion of terrorism of 10 Iraqi Kurds in Manchester: all were released without charge ten days later. Most recently, at the end of February, a young Briton, Saajid Badat, pleaded guilty to conspiring to blow up an aircraft: Badat, who had been arrested in November 2003, had planned to blow up a flight with a shoe bomb, like Richard Reid, but had not gone ahead with this action.

International terrorist incidents involving Britain and the EU

37. Since 9/11, British citizens have been the victims of international terrorist attacks in Bali and Islamabad. Although no British citizens were killed in the Madrid bombings in 2004, the attack in an EU city brought home the possibility of similar events in the UK.

New anti-terrorism powers

38. In response to 9/11, and against the background of a potential terrorist threat, new anti-terrorism powers have been created. These, and how they have been used in practice, are reviewed here. We shall later consider perceptions among minority communities of the legislation itself and how it has been used. It is clear that such perceptions are crucial, since measurable events can only provide a partial indication of the effects of these measures on communities.

The legislation

39. The Terrorism Act 2000 not only consolidated existing law but (together with the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001) gave the police new powers to fight terrorism. For example, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act, "a constable may arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist". The reason for having a special power of arrest in connection with terrorist cases is that "experience continues to show that it is necessary to make provision for circumstances where, at the point when the police believe an arrest should take place, there is not enough to charge an individual with a particular offence even though there is reasonable suspicion of involvement with terrorism".[31] The power of arrest is accompanied by powers of detention that differ from powers under ordinary criminal law in a number of important respects. The power to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 14 days without charge is particularly significant, and it should be noted that the maximum period of detention without charge was originally seven days, but was extended to a total of 14 days by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.[32]

40. The table on the following page lists some of the rights curtailed by the Act. The comparison is with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, as amended (PACE 1984):
PACE 1984 Terrorism Act 2000
Length of detention without charge ? Once someone has been arrested, he or she can be detained for up to 24 hours without charge. This can be extended for a further 12 hours by a sufficiently senior officer if this is thought necessary to secure relevant evidence.

? This period can be extended by a warrant for further detention for up to another 36 hours, and at the end of that period can be extended once more for up to 4 days from the time of arrest.

? Once someone has been arrested, he can be detained for up to 48 hours without charge.

? This period can be extended by a warrant for further detention for up to 7 days, and at the end of that period can be extended once more for up to another 7 days, making a total of 14 days from the time of arrest.

Access to solicitor ? Suspect has a right to see a solicitor that can only be delayed by an officer (of at least the rank of a superintendent) in the case of a serious arrestable offence for up to 36 hours. ? An officer (of at least the rank of superintendent) can authorise a delay of up to 48 hours in permitting the detainee to consult a solicitor.

? Under Sch 8, para 9, a senior police officer (at least assistant chief constable) can require detainee's consultation with lawyer to be within sight and hearing of an officer (of at least rank of inspector and not involved with the case).

41. Section 42 of the same Act provides a power for the police to search premises. It is dependent on the grant of a warrant by a justice of the peace on the basis of reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person whom the constable reasonably suspects to be a terrorist is to be found there. Section 43 provides a power for the police to search someone reasonably suspected of being a terrorist for the purpose of discovering relevant evidence. A police officer can seize and retain anything discovered in the course of the search which he or she reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist.

42. Sections 41-43 of the Act all rely on the notion of reasonable suspicion. A guide to what this should entail, drawn from PACE Code A, is appended.

43. Under section 44(1) of the Act police officers in uniform may, when authorised to do so in the specified area or place, stop and search any vehicle and its occupants. Under section 44(2) a similar power applies in respect of pedestrians and anything they are carrying. The powers are exercisable on the written or oral authorisation of an officer of substantive or temporary ACPO rank. The relevant Home Office guidance is appended.

44. Section 46 effectively created the possibility of continuously rolling authorisation of Section 44 stops and searches (see paragraph 46). This survived a challenge in the Court of Appeal, although the judgment showed some anxiety over the potential for automatic renewal.[33]

45. The distinguishing feature of the powers under section 44 is that a police officer is authorised to stop and search a person without having to have any suspicion that that person is a terrorist. PACE Code A gives the following guidance to police officers:

"2.25: The selection of persons stopped under section 44 of Terrorism Act 2000 should reflect an objective assessment of the threat posed by the various terrorist groups active in Great Britain. The powers must not be used to stop and search for reasons unconnected with terrorism. Officers must take particular care not to discriminate against members of minority ethnic groups in the exercise of these powers. There may be circumstances, however, where it is appropriate for officers to take account of a person's ethnic origin in selecting persons to be stopped in response to a specific terrorist threat (for example, some international terrorist groups are associated with particular ethnic identities)."

Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001: detention and control orders

46. We did not seek evidence on the detention powers created by the 2001 Act, nor on the control orders intended to replace them, as set out the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This was not because we regard these powers as unimportantthey were clearly strongly resented by a number of witnesses, who saw them as stigmatising Muslims.[34] We have therefore taken such concerns into account in our consideration of the issues. But the powers have been widely debated and reported on (for example by the Newton Committee of Privy Councillors and by Lord Carlile in his annual reviews of their operation)[35] and subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.[36] Legislation to replace them, following the House of Lords judgment of 16 December 2004, has been the subject of intense debate, inside and outside Parliament. We therefore believe that there was little that this Report could usefully have added at this stage.

The use of these powers

Stops and searches

47. Authorisations of stops and searches under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (see paragraphs 42-44) have been fairly common, although there have been wide variations between regions. In London, for instance, there were rolling 28 day authorisations for the whole of the area policed by the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police. London is the only city to have had continuous section 44 authorisations. However, following a review of the use of the section 44 powers, since the end of 2004, section44 has not been authorised in eight London boroughsalthough areas within them may be covered by other authorities, such as the British Transport Police.

48. Overall, 944 stop and search authorisations have been confirmed between February 2001 and February 2005, with 18 instances where the powers were not confirmed by the Secretary of State. The Home Office submission to the Home Affairs Committee for a single evidence session in July 2004 on anti-terrorism powers listed the factors that are taken into account by Ministers:

"i)  the geographic extent of the location in which the power will be used;

ii)  the justification for authorising the powers, and information on their prospective use;

iii)  the ongoing general assessment of the terrorist threat;

iv)  threat assessments for particular events or locations, and

v)  the briefing and training of officers involved in the use of the power."[37]

49. There are wide variations between police forces in the use of stops and searches under the Terrorism Act. For example, 15,535 of the 29,407 stops and searches carried out in 2003-04 were carried out by the Metropolitan Police (52.8%) and a further 7,252 by the City of London Police (24.7%). 19 forces carried out no such stops and searches in that period and a further 8 carried out fewer than 12.[38]

50. Stops and searches are not recorded by religion. The Home Office justify this on the grounds that they do not regard the religion of a suspect as relevant to the offence for which they have been arrested.[39] It is therefore impossible to tell how many Muslims have been stopped and searched under the Terrorism Act. Figures are, however, available by ethnicity for England and Wales for the years 2001-02 to 2003-04
Ethnic Group 2001-022002-03 2003-04
White6,629 14,42920,637
Black529 1,7452,704
Asian744 2,9893,668
Other/Not recorded 6182,414 2398
TOTAL8,550 21,57729,407

Source: HC Deb, 1 November 2004, cols 55-60W and Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System2004

51. Thus between 2001-02 and 2002-03 stops and searches increased for all ethnic groups, with rises of 118% for whites and 302% for Asians. Asian stops and searches rose from 8.7% to 13.8% of the total. In the following year stops and searches of white people went up by 43% and of Asians by 23%. Asians stops and searches were 12.4% of the total in 2003-04.

52. Stops and searches as a whole in England and Wales, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, as well as under the Terrorism Act, rose from 713,700 in 2001-02 to 869,164 in 2002-03 (up 22%). 58,831 (7% of the total) were of Asian people, an increase of 36% on the previous year. In 2003-04, the total fell by 15% to 738,016. Asian stops and searches fell by 8.1% to 54,083 (7% of the total). In each year the most common reason given for stops and searches of Asians was suspicion of the possession of drugs (56% in 2001-02, 58% in 2002-03 and 59% in 2003-04?the highest in each year for any ethnic group).[40]

Arrests under the Terrorism Act

53. In 2003-04 13% of all stops and searches resulted in an arrest, the same figure as the year before. The percentage of Asian stops and searches resulting in an arrest fell from 13% to 11%. There were 8,120 stops and searches of pedestrians under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act in 2003-04, 1,097 (13.5%) of which were on Asians. These resulted in 5 arrests in connection with terrorism (0.06%)all of whitesand 112 for other reasons (1.4%), of which 18 (16.1%) were of Asians. Thus fewer than 1.5% of stops and searches of pedestrians under the Terrorism Act resulted in an arrest.[41]

54. When the disparity in the proportion of stops and searches resulting in arrests between those carried out under Section 44 and those carried out under other legislation was put to ACPO, Assistant Chief Constable Beckley noted that the main aim of the power was disruption and deterrence of terrorism, rather than detection. He added "this is a power to be used to put people off their plans, hence it is used in a pretty random way" and argued that there was evidence from some forces to suggest that it might well be having the intended disruptive effect. He also argued that there were very strong safeguards against indiscriminate use of the power, and that ACPO briefing had been significantly changed to ensure the community context was taken into account.[42]

55. According to the Home Office, between 11 September 2001 and December 2004 there were 701 arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000; 119 of those arrested were charged, and 45 of those 119 were charged with other offences as well. A further 135 were charged under legislation other than the 2000 Act (including terrorist offences that are already covered in general criminal law, such as murder, grievous bodily harm and use of firearms or explosives), and 17 have been convicted under the Terrorism Act. The Home Office gave the following information (see table on facing page) on the remaining 448: [43]

Transferred to Immigration Authorities 59
On Bail to Return22
Cautioned7
Dealt with under Mental Health Legislation 7
Awaiting Extradition 1
Returned to Prison Service Custody 1
Released Without Charge 351

These figures add up to 702 arrests. Home Office officials have told the Committee that this, rather than the publicised figure of 701, is the correct total.

56. The Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank that researches race issues in the UK and elsewhere, noted that 609 people had been arrested for offences under the Terrorism Act between 11 September 2001 and 30 June 2004. The Institute believed that 99 of them had been charged and 15 convicted under the Act. The Institute researched 11 of the 15 convictions and believed that six were white non-Muslims, all members of proscribed Loyalist groups, while only three were Muslims (two of whom had been given leave to appeal). The Institute argued that this showed the inaccuracy of high-profile media coverage linking Muslims to terrorism.[44] An item on BBC Radio's Today programme reported that according to ACPO 180 arrests were for domestic terrorism. The report also suggested that of the 17 convictions, 3 were for Irish Republican terrorism, 4 Loyalist, 2 Sikh and 1 Tamil, while 3 could be described as Islamist. The programme was unable to establish the nature of the remaining 4 convictions.[45]

57. The Director of Public Prosecutions told us that the Irish cases were a declining proportion of terrorism-related cases. There were a number of cases which had come to trial, some of which were being tried, and some extremely serious cases would come up over the next year or so. He argued that it would be necessary to wait before making judgments about conviction rates in international terrorism cases.[46]

58. We express in paragraph 160 our concerns about the lack of detailed information about terrorism-related arrests, charges and convictions. Despite the current lack of information about terrorist cases, it is our view that in due course the majority will probably prove to have been related to international terrorism.

Racially and religiously motivated crimes

59. The Metropolitan Police said that racist incidents rose from 10,883 in 1998/99 to 22,875 in 1999/2000, an increase of 110% , but that the figure for 2002/03 (15,453) was 47% above the 1998/99 level.[47]

60. Information provided by the Crown Prosecution Service on prosecutions for racially and religiously aggravated offences is set out in the following table:[48]

Prosecutions for racially and religiously aggravated offences
FY 2001-02 FY 2002-03 FY 2003-04
Prosecutions ProsecutionsConviction rate ProsecutionsConviction rate
Racially aggravated 26743116 85%3616 86%
Religiously aggravated offences [Offence came into effect on 14 December 2001] 1855% 4477%

In 2003-04 the actual or perceived religion of the victim in 22 of the religiously aggravated 44 cases was Muslim. In the remaining cases, the victims were Christian (8), Jewish (5), Hindu (3), Sikh (2), Jehovah's Witness (1), and unknown (4). A guilty plea was submitted in 50% of offences with an overall conviction rate of 77%. In both racially and religiously aggravated cases the most common offence appeared to be public order.[49]


31   Home Office Circular 03/2001 Back

32   Criminal Justice Act 2003, section 306 andthe Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Commencement No. 2 and Saving Provisions) Order 2004 (S.I. 2004, No 81 (C2)) Back

33   R (Gillan) v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [2004] EWCA Civ 1067 Back

34   Ev 66, HC 165-II Back

35   Privy Counsellor Review Committee, Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Review: Report, 18 December 2003, HC 100 and Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 Part IV section 28 Review 2004 Back

36   Joint Committee on Human Rights, Eighteenth Report of Session 2003-04, Review of Counter-terrorism Powers, HL 158/HC 713 Back

37   Home Affairs Committee, Anti-terrorism Powers, HC 886-I, Ev 21 Back

38   Home Office, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System2004, February 2005, Table 4.6, www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds Back

39   Ev 48, HC 165-II Back

40   Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System2004 and 2003 Back

41   Home Office, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System2004, February 2005, Tables 44 and 4.8,  Back

42   Qq 342-343 Back

43   HC Deb 14 March 2005, cols 63-66W Back

44   www.irr.org.uk/prf/anti_terror_arrests.pdf Back

45   www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain, 11 March 2005, 07.17 Back

46   Qq 369-370 Back

47   Ev 61, HC 165-II Back

48   Ev 21-22, HC 165-II Back

49   "CPS racist and religious crime data published", Crown Prosecution Service press release 106/05, 17 January 2005 Back


 
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