News story

New powers to deal with suspected terrorists

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Suspected terrorists face tough controls under a new law given Royal Assent today, the Home Secretary said.

The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act, or TPIMs, will allow the Home Secretary to impose a powerful range of disruptive measures on those who pose a risk to UK security.

The new system follows the government’s comprehensive review of counter-terrorism and security powers, which assessed whether existing powers were necessary, effective and proportionate.

More focused and targeted system

The outcome of the review, published earlier this year, recommended repealing control orders and replacing them with a more focused and targeted system of TPIMs. Alongside the new regime, the government is providing significant additional resources to the police and security service, to underpin the effectiveness of the measures and the government’s commitment to prosecuting wherever possible.

Royal Assent

On receipt of Royal Assent Home Secretary Theresa May said:
‘As I have always said, this government’s first priority is to protect public safety and national security, and wherever possible we will work to prosecute and convict suspected terrorists in open court.

‘We reviewed counter-terrorism legislation to ensure it is both necessary and effective.

‘The new TPIM regime maintains effective powers for dealing with those who are engaged in terrorism-related activity - but who we cannot yet prosecute or deport. The additional resources for covert investigation could increase opportunities to collect evidence which may be used in a prosecution.’

Disruptive measures

Prosecution, conviction and imprisonment or deportation will always be the government’s preferred method for dealing with terrorists. But in the rare cases where this is not immediately possible, the TPIM regime will allow the Home Secretary to impose a powerful range of disruptive measures on individuals including:

  • requiring them to stay overnight at a specified address
  • requiring them to report to a police station on a daily basis
  • excluding them from specific places or areas
  • preventing them from contacting particular individuals 
  • prohibiting travel overseas  

The new measures have a two year time limit and will be imposed by the Home Secretary with prior permission from the High Court, except in urgent cases. If the individual re-engages in terrorism it will be possible to impose further restrictions on them.

More stringent measures

The review of counter-terrorism and security powers also recognised that in exceptional circumstances, additional more stringent measures may be required. Draft legislation has been published - but will not be introduced to Parliament until necessary - allowing more restrictive measures including relocation, lengthy curfews, and further restrictions on communications, association and movement.