Following her speech on Monday of this week, in which she detailed much-needed additions to the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, Home Secretary Theresa May will today outline the government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill before Parliament.
Measures in the Bill are wide-ranging, from passport confiscation and temporary exclusion orders designed to mitigate the Syria-related terrorist threat to plugging a legal loophole over insurance companies reimbursing ransom payments. The Bill also strengthens TPIMs – Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures – by reintroducing locational constraints and mandates more long-term counter-terrorism responsibilities for universities, internet service providers and aviation companies.
Having recently called for extensive new measures to combat extremism, The Henry Jackson Society commends the government’s efforts to legislate for a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy that remains up to date with evolving jihadist terrorism. In particular, it reflects the heightened danger posed by home-grown self-starters such as Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers, the threat from whom yesterday’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report suggested could be more accurately assessed if internet companies cooperated more with the government on counter-terrorism.
Such far-reaching legislation must be accompanied by effective delivery. Many of the sectors now facing a legal responsibility to counter-radicalisation, including schools, universities and local councils, for example have long been identified by HJS as both vulnerable to extremism and, at times, reluctant to challenge it robustly.
Addressing the issue of communications surveillance, HJS Research Fellow Robin Simcox asserted:
“The Home Secretary’s reforms regarding communications data are an essential part of this Bill. The state’s ability to access communications data is vital to safeguarding national security and stopping many types of serious crime. However, as the Home Secretary acknowledges, more needs to be done and this is an issue that must be returned to in the next Parliament.”
HJS Research Fellow Rupert Sutton, who runs the university-monitoring group Student Rights, added:
“The Bill shows that the government recognises and takes seriously the importance of challenging extremists that target students. Making dealing with extremists a statutory duty for universities will ensure a more consistent response across the sector. Given the extent of the issue though this will be a difficult policy to enforce, and will need dedicated work on the ground to ensure institutions can meet their legal requirements”.
HJS Research Fellow Hannah Stuart commented:
“As Home Secretary, Theresa May has not shied away from robustly addressing counter-terrorism and this latest Bill is no different. Its passage through parliament will not only trigger important debate on security and liberty as well as workability, but will also provide an opportunity for the government to make an effective case for the powers it needs to keep Britain safe from the growing terrorism threat.”