Urgently-needed legislation which will give the UK some of the toughest powers in the world to tackle the increasing threat from international terrorism was introduced today.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill will bolster our already considerable armoury of powers to disrupt the ability of people to travel abroad to fight, reduce the risks they pose on their return and combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism.
The collapse of Syria, the emergence of ISIL and ongoing instability in Iraq present significant dangers not just in the Middle East but in Britain and across the West. Many of the 500 British citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq have joined terrorist organisations alongside foreign fighters from Europe and further afield.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. These powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face.
In an open and free society, we can never entirely eliminate the threat from terrorism. But we must do everything possible in line with our shared values to reduce the risks posed by our enemies.
This Bill includes a considered, targeted set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves.
Disrupting travel and controlling return
The Bill, which will be enacted at the earliest opportunity, will disrupt those intending to travel by:
- Providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border from individuals of concern.
- Creating a Temporary Exclusion Order that will control the return to the UK of a British citizen suspected of involvement in terrorist activity abroad.
- Enhancing our border security by toughening transport security arrangements around passenger data, ‘no fly’ lists and screening measures.
To deal with those returning to or already in the UK, the government is:
- Enhancing existing Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, including the introduction of stronger locational constraints and a power requiring individuals to attend meetings with the authorities as part of their ongoing management.
To support those at serious risk of succumbing to radicalisation, we are:
- Creating a general duty on a range of bodies to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.
- Putting Channel – the voluntary programme for people at risk of radicalisation – on a statutory basis.
And to help disrupt the wider activities of these terrorist organisations, the Bill is:
- Enhancing vital investigative powers by requiring communications service providers to retain additional information in order to attribute an Internet Protocol address to a specific individual.
- Amending existing law to ensure that UK-based insurance firms cannot reimburse the payment of terrorist ransoms.
Use of these powers, which are consistent with all our existing international legal obligations, will be subject to stringent safeguards. These include appropriate legal thresholds, judicial oversight of certain measures and a power to create a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to support the work of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC.
The Bill will sit alongside the existing range of tools that are already used extensively to combat the terrorist threat, including powers to withdraw the passports of British citizens, bar foreign nationals from re-entering the UK and strip British citizenship from those who have dual nationality.
We are also working with the internet industry to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas. Since February 2010, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has taken down more than 65,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content.