News story

Home Secretary announces new offence of breach of pre-charge bail

New Government amendment introduced to the Policing and Crime Bill.

The Home Secretary today announced a new offence of breach of pre-charge bail will be introduced as part of the Policing and Crime Bill.

The Government amendment to the Bill would make it a criminal offence for an individual released on pre-charge bail following an arrest for a relevant terrorism offence to breach any conditions of that bail that prohibit them from leaving the country.

It would apply to cases where an individual is arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offence listed in section 41 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, which covers a range of offences including membership of a proscribed organisation, fundraising in support of terrorism, and encouraging terrorism.

Under the new clause, it would be an offence to breach the following sorts of bail conditions: a requirement on an individual not to leave the UK, a requirement to surrender travel documents, and a requirement not to be in possession of any travel documents – even if they belong to someone else.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

We are determined to give the police the tools they need to fight terrorism and keep people safe. This tough new criminal offence will help stop suspected terrorists from fleeing the UK to join Daesh.

We have already taken action to deal specifically with the problem of foreign fighters, including introducing powers to seize and hold the passports of those suspected of planning to leave the UK and take part in acts of terror.

The measure will help the police protect people from the threat of terrorism – it underlines the Government’s determination to tackle those who would do us harm or threaten our way of life.

During his evidence to the Liaison Committee in January 2016, the Prime Minister made clear the Government’s intention to do more work to address this issue.

Anyone convicted faces a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine.