Tough new powers to seize passports at the border from those suspected of travelling to Syria or Iraq will come into force within 24 hours, as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill today received Royal Assent.
The measure will bolster existing passport removal powers and allow police to temporarily disrupt individuals of concern who are attempting to leave the UK while further investigations are carried out. From today, the Home Secretary will also have the power to relocate those subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures and require them to attend meetings with probation staff and others as part of their ongoing case management.
Other provisions – including a duty on specified bodies, including the police, prisons, local authorities, schools and universities, to have due regard to preventing people being drawn into terrorism; and measures which will enhance our border security for aviation, maritime and rail travel – are set to commence in the coming months, subject to Parliamentary approval of crucial secondary legislation before the end of March.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
The shocking attacks in Paris last month, in which 17 people lost their lives, and the many plots that the police and security and intelligence agencies continually work to disrupt, are clear evidence of the threat we face from terrorism. We have a fundamental duty as a government to ensure that the people who work to keep us safe have the powers they need to do so.
This important legislation will disrupt the ability of people to travel abroad to fight and then return, enhance our ability to monitor and control the actions of those who pose a threat, and combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism.
The events in Paris also highlighted important lessons for the UK – that whatever our nationality, faith or background, we must all work together as a nation to confront, challenge and defeat extremism and terrorism in all its forms, and stand up and speak out for our fundamental values.
The Act will also:
- introduce new temporary exclusion orders, which will disrupt the return to the UK of a British citizen suspected of involvement in terrorist activity abroad;
- improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to identify which device is responsible for sending a communication on the internet or accessing an internet communications service;
- make Channel – the voluntary programme for people at risk of radicalisation – a legal requirement for public bodies so that it is delivered consistently across the country;
- amend the Terrorism Act 2000 to put beyond doubt the legal basis of measures relating to the reimbursement of payments made to terrorist organisations; and
- widen the remit of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and allow for the creation of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to support them.
Use of the powers in the Act – which has undergone extensive Parliamentary and public scrutiny, and has received cross-party support – will be subject to stringent safeguards, including suitable legal thresholds and judicial oversight of certain measures such as temporary exclusion orders. And acknowledging concerns raised by universities and other education institutions, amendments made by the government will ensure they balance their obligations under the new Prevent duty with the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom.
During the passage of the Bill, the Prime Minister also announced an additional £130million which will be made available over the next two years to strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities. This will include new funding to enhance our ability to monitor and disrupt terrorists and additional resources for programmes to prevent radicalisation.