Official Statistics

Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation: arrests, outcomes and stops and searches, Great Britain, financial year ending 31 March 2015

Published 10 September 2015

1. Introduction

This release covers the use of police powers under terrorism and terrorism-related legislation in Great Britain on an annual basis up to the year ending 31 March 2015. Some quarterly breakdowns are provided in the supplementary tables. The release is broken into 4 sections.

The ‘arrests and outcomes’ section uses data provided by the ACPO Counter Terrorism Coordination Centre (ACTCC) and includes statistics for Great Britain on:

  • arrests for terrorism-related activity, and outcomes (such as charges and convictions) following arrests
  • the legislation used to bring charges and convictions
  • gender, age, ethnicity, and nationality of those arrested, charged and convicted
  • the type of terrorism involvement of those arrested, charged and convicted (such as whether the individual had links to international, domestic, or Northern-Ireland-related terrorism)

This section covers the period from 11 September 2001 to the year ending 31 March 2015. Quarterly breakdowns for the most recent 9 quarters can be found in the quarterly tables. A flow chart summarising this section can be found in Annex A.

The ‘court proceedings’ section uses data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and includes statistics for England and Wales on:

  • the number of persons proceeded against by the CPS for terrorism-related activity
  • the legislation under which persons have been prosecuted and convicted
  • the sentence length given to those convicted for terrorism-related offences
  • the outcome of appeals against convictions or sentences

The ‘terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners’ section uses data from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and includes statistics for Great Britain on:

  • the number of persons in custody for domestic extremism and terrorism-related offences
  • the ethnicity, nationality and religion of those in custody
  • the number of terrorist prisoners released from custody

The ‘stop and search’ section uses data provided by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ) and includes statistics on:

  • the number of stops and searches carried out by the MPS under section 43 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000
  • the number of examinations and subsequent detentions made in Great Britain under Schedule 7 to TACT 2000
  • the number of cordons set up in Great Britain under section 33 of TACT 2000

Further details on this release, including a summary of the criminal justice process, details of the terrorism legislation covered and definitions of the different categories of terrorists can be found in the user guide. A flow chart summarising the ‘arrests and outcomes’ section of this release can be found in Annex A. Data tables also accompany this release.

1.1 Uses of the data

Data presented in this release are used to monitor the way in which legislation is used to tackle terrorism in the UK. It enables the level of police activity to be tracked over time, as well as changes in the demographics and types of terrorist being targeted by anti-terrorism powers. The release is used to answer requests for information on terrorism-related offending in Great Britain, and to brief Ministers on the range of terrorism-related activities highlighted in this release.

2. Key findings

2.1 Arrests and outcomes

In the year ending 31 March 2015, there were 299 arrests for terrorism-related offences, an increase of 31% compared with the previous year and the highest number since data collection began in September 2001. Previously the highest number of terrorism-related arrests recorded in a year was the year ending 31 March 2006; the year of the 7 July London bombings, which saw 284 arrests.

The increase in the most recent year was driven by a large number of arrests in quarter 3 (October to December 2014), which saw 106 terrorism-related arrests. The most recent quarter (January to March 2015) saw 67 terrorism-related arrests, which is a fall on the previous quarter, but is higher than the same period in the previous 2 years.

Since the year ending 31 March 2011, there has been a marked increase in the number of those arrested who consider themselves to be of British, or British dual nationality. In the year ending 31 March 2015, they accounted for 78% of all those arrested for terrorism-related offences, compared with only 52% of persons in the year ending 31 March 2011.

Of those charged following a terrorism-related arrest in the year ending 31 March 2015, 85% were charged with terrorism-related offences, the highest proportion on record, and an increase on the 64% in the previous year.

2.2 Court proceedings

In the year ending 31 March 2015, there were 52 persons proceeded against for terrorism-related offences (up from 43 in the previous year). Of these, 42 (81%) were convicted, of whom 27 entered a guilty plea.

2.3 Terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners

As at 31 March 2015, there were 192 persons in custody for terrorism-related offences and domestic extremism/separatism, an increase of 38 persons compared to 31 March 2014.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, 97 terrorist and extremist/separatists prisoners were released from custody.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, the MPS carried out 411 stops and searches under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This was a fall of 9% compared with the previous year, and continues the long term fall in the number of stops and searches since the year ending 31 March 2010. Seven per cent of persons searched were subsequently arrested, the same arrest rate as the previous year, and an increase of 5 percentage points compared with the year ending 31 March 2010.

There were 32,000 examinations carried out under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 in the year ending 31 March 2015, a fall of 28% on the previous year. This could partly be down to a more targeted use of the power and an increased focus on outbound passengers. Over the same period, the number of detentions following a Schedule 7 examination almost tripled, from around 500 to 1,300 detentions. This followed the introduction of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in August 2014, which made it mandatory to detain a person where an examination lasts for more than an hour.

3. Arrests and outcomes

Statistics presented in this section represent the number of persons arrested by police in Great Britain, where there is suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity, either at the time of arrest, or at a subsequent point in the investigation. In some cases after a terrorism-related arrest, evidence may emerge that suggests a suspect does not have links to terrorist activity, but has committed an offence. These cases are included in the arrest data as non-terrorism-related charges and, or convictions. Outcomes following these arrests are also included in the statistics and show the number of arrests that led to a charge or prosecution, as well as other outcomes. All data in this section are based on the date of arrest. This allows users to see the outcomes of all of the arrests in a specific period, i.e. how many led to a charge and conviction.

Data are provided to the Home Office by ACTCC and are taken from a live database. This section includes annual breakdowns of the data from 11 September 2001 (when this data collection began) to 31 March 2015. Quarterly breakdowns for the most recent 9 quarters are also provided in the quarterly tables. Data are correct as of the time of data provision to the Home Office (8 July 2015).

A flow chart summarising this section can is included in Annex A. This follows individuals from the point of arrest through to charge (or other outcome), and prosecution.

3.1 Arrests

In the year ending 31 March 2015, there were 299 persons arrested for terrorism-related offences, a 31% increase on the previous year, and the highest number of arrests since the data collection began in September 2001. Increases were seen across all age groups, except 25- to 29-year-olds. Notably the number of 18- to 20-year-olds arrested more than doubled from 20 to 43 arrests.

A large amount of this increase was driven by a spike in quarter 3 (October to December 2014), which saw 106 arrests – over a third of all arrests in that year. The most recent quarter saw 67 terrorism-related arrests. Although this is a fall on the previous quarter, it remains higher than the same period in the previous 2 years.

Prior to the most recent year, the year ending 31 March 2006 (the year of the July 7 London bombings) saw the largest number of terrorism-related arrests on record. This increase was driven by a 77% increase in the number of international-related terrorism arrests shortly after the attacks on 7 July 2005.

The proportion of arrests under section 41 of TACT 2000 has shown a steady year-on-year decrease since the year ending 31 March 2006, where 96% of terrorism-related arrests were under section 41 of TACT 2000. In the year ending 31 March 2015, only 1 in 5 terrorism-related arrests were made under section 41 of TACT 2000. Police have more commonly been carrying out arrests under standard legislation given by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and other legislation.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.01.

Chart Notes:

  1. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.

Since 11 September 2001 the numbers of terrorism-related arrests have fluctuated. There was an initial spike in the number of arrests in the period soon after the September 11 attacks on the U.S., and around the time that the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan was beginning. There was a large increase in the number of arrests in the period immediately after the 7 July London bombings, where the number of arrests was at its highest since the data collection was established. Soon after this, the number of terrorism-related arrests declined, until late 2010. In late 2010, the Arab Springs began, and throughout the years since the initial uprising, the number of terrorism-related arrests in Great Britain has seen a steady rise.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, Arrests and Outcomes database.

3.2 Pre-charge detentions under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Once a suspect has been arrested by the police, they may be held for a specified period of time before being charged. This gives police the time to investigate and accumulate evidence relating to potential terrorism offences. The current maximum period of detention under section 41 of TACT 2000 is 14 days (reduced from 28 days on 25 January 2011), compared with a maximum of 4 days under standard arrest powers. Further details of the legislation can be found in the user guide.

Of those arrested under section 41 TACT in the year ending 31 March 2015, around a third (21 persons) were detained for more than 7 days. This contrasts with the previous year, where only 1 person was detained for more than 7 days. The percentage of those arrested under section 41 TACT who were detained for more than 7 days in the year ending 31 March 2015 was 34%, its highest since the data collection began, and the same as the year ending 31 March 2007. The majority (15) of those detained for more than 7 days were eventually charged.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, 61 persons were detained under section 41 TACT. Of these, 29 were charged and 32 were subsequently released.

Figure 3.3 Number of detentions under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, by length of time detained1

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.02.

Chart Notes:

  1. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.

3.3 Charges

Once the maximum pre-charge detention period has been reached, the police must charge the suspect, release the suspect without charge, release the suspect on bail, or take alternative action such as issuing a caution.

Of the 299 persons arrested in the year ending 31 March 2015, 118 were charged with an offence. Of these charges, 100 (or 85%) were considered to be terrorism-related. This was the highest proportion since the data collection was set up in 2001, suggesting that police were more frequently able to find evidence to support the link to terrorism following a terrorism-related arrest.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.04.

Chart Notes:

  1. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.

Since 11 September 2001, when the data collection began, 39% of those arrested for terrorism-related offences have been charged. The year ending 31 March 2015 has seen a 39% charge rate (although this is expected to increase as more investigations are completed), while the previous year saw a charge rate of 55%.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.03.

Chart Notes:

  1. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.
  2. In more recent years/quarters there will be a number of incomplete cases (i.e. persons released on bail pending further enquiry). As a result, charge rates for these years are likely to increase as more cases are complete.

The proportion of those released without charge following an arrest for a terrorism-related offence peaked at 68% in the year ending 31 March 2006. Since 11 September 2001, 52% of persons arrested have been released without charge, while the most recent year saw only 43% of all those arrested being released without charge (although this could rise as more cases are complete). The proportion of people who faced alternative action has gradually decreased since September 2001. In particular there has been a reduction in the number of arrestees being transferred to immigration authorities.

As police investigations progress, cases involving those bailed pending further investigation will become finalised. This will lead to the number of charges and other outcomes increasing over time. More recent time periods are likely to have a greater number of non-finalised cases.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.03.

Chart Notes:

  1. Alternative action includes cautions for non-TACT offences, transfers and mental health legislation (see table A.03 for the full list).
  2. Those bailed to return will eventually be charged, released, or face alternative action.

3.4 Charges by offence

In line with the normal procedures for criminal justice statistics, each suspect has been classified in terms of a single principal offence. This means that when an individual is charged with a number of offences, they are recorded only against the most serious one, usually the one that carries the highest penalty. This means that the figures count the number of individuals charged, rather than the number of individual offences committed that led to a charge.

The most common offence for which persons have been charged with under terrorism legislation since 11 September 2001 is ‘preparation for terrorist acts’ (section 5 of TACT 2006), which has accounted for 21% of all terrorism-related charges since then, and half of all terrorism-related charges in the year ending 31 March 2015.

Further details of the legislation under which persons have been charged following a terrorism-related arrest can be found in tables A.05a-c.

3.5 Court proceedings and outcomes of charges

Once an individual has been charged they are likely to face prosecution. If an individual has been charged with a terrorism-related offence, they may still be convicted of a non-terrorism-related offence, for example in cases where there is insufficient evidence to link an offence to terrorism but another non-terrorism-related offence has been committed.

The statistics presented here are based on arrest dates. If an individual is prosecuted in a particular year, the prosecution will show against the year in which the individual was initially arrested. Due to the complex nature of terrorism investigations, trials may take place several years after an arrest or charge occurs. As time goes on, more trials will reach conclusions, so figures for previous years may be updated. For this reason, caution must be taken when comparing prosecution rates over time. More recent years/quarters are likely to have lower prosecution rates as more cases are awaiting completion. This is illustrated by 62 of the 100 individuals who were charged with terrorism-related offences in the year ending 31 March 2015 that are still awaiting prosecution.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.06c.

Chart Notes:

  1. Based on date of arrest.
  2. A more detailed flow chart can be found in Annex A.
  3. The 31 ‘terrorism related’ convictions include convictions under non-TACT legislation, where the offence is considered to be related to terrorism.

3.6 Convictions by offence

The most common offence for which persons have been convicted for terrorism-related offences since 11 September 2001 is ‘preparation for terrorist acts’ (section 5 of TACT 2006), which has accounted for 25% of all terrorism-related convictions. This offence was also the most common offence for which persons were charged.

Further details of the legislation under which persons have been convicted following a terrorism-related arrest can be found in tables A.08a-c.

3.7 Gender, age and ethnic appearance of persons arrested, charged and convicted

The proportion of those arrested for terrorism-related offences that are female has gradually increased since 11 September 2001. Between 11 September 2001 and the year ending 31 March 2013, 7% of those arrested were female. In the most recent 2 years, 12% of those arrested have been female.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, 35 females were arrested for terrorism-related offences, the highest since the data collection began. This increase was driven predominantly by an increase in the most recent 2 quarters (October 2014 to March 2015), which accounted for over three-quarters of all terrorism-related arrests of females in that year.

All age groups except 25- to 29-year-olds saw an increase in the number of arrests in the year ending 31 March 2015 compared with the previous year. The number of 18- to 20-year-olds arrested more than doubled (from 20 to 43), accounting for 14% of all terrorism-related arrests (compared with 9% the previous year). The number of 21- to 24-year-olds saw a similar numerical increase of 21 arrests. There was also a marked increase in the number of persons arrested who were aged 30 and over, which saw a rise of more than a third (or 36 arrests).

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.10.

Chart Notes:

  1. Excludes cases where age was not known.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, the number of terrorism-related arrests increased across all ethnic groups. Most notably, those arrested who were of Asian ethnic appearance increased by 36% taking the number of arrests of that ethnic group to its highest since data collection began on 11 September 2001. Those of Asian ethnic appearance accounted for 140 (or 47% of) arrests in the year ending 31 March 2015.

Further details on the ethnic appearance of those arrested, charged and convicted after a charge for a terrorism-related offence can be found in table A.11.

3.8 Nationality of persons arrested, charged and convicted

In the year ending 31 March 2015, 78% of those arrested for terrorism-related offences considered themselves to be of British, or British dual nationality, up 4 percentage points on the previous year.

The number of persons arrested for terrorism-related offences, who consider themselves to be of British nationality has increased dramatically since the year ending 31 March 2011 where only 52% of those arrested considered themselves to be British. The number of persons who considered themselves to be non-British has decreased, although not to the same extent.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.12a.

Chart Notes:

  1. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.
  2. Excludes cases where the nationality was not declared.

Further details on the nationalities of those arrested for terrorism-related offences, charged for terrorism-related offences, and convicted following a charge for terrorism-related offences can be found in tables A.12a-c.

3.9 Categorisation of persons arrested, charged and convicted

Statistics on the categorisation of those arrested, charged and convicted are summarised below. Categorisations are based on whether an individual is found to have involvement with any type of terrorism, either at the time of arrest or following subsequent investigations. The categories identify those associated with:

  • international-related terrorism: activities linked to or motivated by any terrorist group based outside the UK
  • Northern-Ireland-related terrorism: activities supporting the actions or ideology of proscribed Northern-Ireland-related terrorist groups
  • domestic terrorism: terrorism-related activity where there are no links to Northern Ireland or international terrorism
  • not classified: persons thought to be associated with any type of terrorism at the time of arrest or charge (which could include airport travellers charged for failing to comply with an examination under Schedule 7 to TACT 2000), then found to have no terrorist links after investigation

For more information on the categorisation of terrorism-related suspects see the user guide.

The number of persons arrested for international-related terrorism increased by 35% (or 56 arrests) in the year ending 31 March 2015, compared with the previous year. The number of persons arrested for domestic terrorism more than doubled (from 15 to 32), although this accounted for a smaller proportion of all arrests than international-related terrorism.

The number of arrests for international-related terrorism has followed a similar pattern to the number of arrests of those who consider themselves to be of British, or British dual nationality. Since the year ending 31 March 2011, both have shown a sharp increase, as shown in Figure 2.10. This suggests that an increasing number of British nationals are subscribing to terrorist ideology that originate outside the UK.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table A.12a and A.13.

Chart Notes:

  1. Includes those who considered themselves to be of British, or British dual nationality.
  2. Data collection began on 11 September 2001. Therefore, data for the year ending 31 March 2002 is not a full years worth of data.

This section provides an overview of the trends seen over the most recent 9 quarters to 31 March 2015. It allows for a more detailed insight into recent use of police powers.

The number of terrorism-related arrests in the most recent quarter (January to March 2015) fell to 67 arrests, compared with the unusually high number of arrests (106) in the previous quarter. Although this was a large fall compared with the previous quarter, the 67 arrests is higher than the number of arrests seen in any of the other quarters in the last 2 years.

Out of the 67 terrorism-related arrests in January to March 2015, 24 (or 36%) resulted in a charge. Of these, 17 were considered to be terrorism-related, and 7 were considered to be non-terrorism-related. A further 14 of those arrested have been released on bail pending further investigation.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, quarterly data table AQ.03.

Chart Notes:

  1. Charges are broken down by terrorism related charges, and non-terrorism related charges.
  2. The number of charges in a given quarter is based on the time of arrest. If an individual was charged several quarters after they were initially arrested, the charge will show against the quarter in which the arrest took place.

Of the 17 persons who were arrested between January and March 2015 and were subsequently charged with a terrorism-related offence, 2 have so far been prosecuted, both of which were convicted. The remaining 15 were awaiting prosecution at the time of data provision to the Home Office (8 July 2015). Of the 47 who were charged with a terrorism-related offence following an arrest in the previous quarter (October to December 2014) the majority (36) were still awaiting prosecution. Ten had been prosecuted at the time of data provision, all of whom had been convicted.

Quarterly breakdowns of the data in this section, including details on specific legislation used to bring charges and convictions, as well as information on the demographic characteristics of those arrested, charged and prosecuted can be found in the quarterly tables.

3.11 Data tables

Statistics on persons arrested for terrorism-related offences, and the resulting charges and outcomes, can be found in tables A.01 to A.13. These include data on types of arrests, charges and prosecutions, the legislation and powers police have used to deal with terror suspects, and demographic breakdowns of individuals arrested, charged and prosecuted. Quarterly tables are also published alongside this release.

3.12 Data quality and interpreting the figures

Statistics presented in this section are provided to the Home Office by ACTCC and are correct at the time of data provision (8 July 2015). As cases progress over time, outcomes can change and figures for previous quarters may be updated in this release. ACTCC regularly review their cases to ensure records are up to date. This can result in records being added, removed or amended.

As there are a relatively small number of persons arrested for terrorism-related offences each year, the data are subject to proportionally large fluctuations. Changes in police and public activity and attitudes can have an impact on the number of persons arrested. For example, terrorism-related events (such as the London attacks on 7 July 2005) can impact upon public reporting of suspicious activity, and in turn, arrest patterns. Furthermore, police operational decisions in response to specific threats or events (such as the London 2012 Olympics) can have an impact. Individual cases involving multiple suspects can also affect the figures.

Ethnicities of persons arrested that are presented in this section are based on ethnic appearances recorded by the police at the time of arrest. In some cases, this may differ from the actual ethnicities of persons arrested. Self-declared nationalities of persons arrested may also differ from their actual nationalities, if for example, the arrestee gives a false nationality at the time of arrest.

Categorisations of those arrested for terrorism-related offences are based on assessment from ACTCC and may not be mutually exclusive. Additionally, categorisations may change as cases progress and new evidence comes to light. From the year ending March 2011 onwards, the use of the ‘not classified’ category was reviewed to ensure that stricter categories of involvement were adhered to. As a result, figures from that year onwards include a greater number of ‘not classified’ persons, and are therefore not directly comparable to previous years’ figures.

The user guide provides further details relating to definitions, legislation and procedures, and data quality.

4. Court proceedings

This section presents statistics on prosecutions for terrorism-related offences in England and Wales. It provides data on the number of persons prosecuted and convicted, including information on the legislation against which they were prosecuted. It also provides information on the length of sentence that each defendant faces. Data in this section are based on the date of trial completion.

Data are provided to the Home Office by the Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division (CPS CTD). The data cover terrorism-related court cases that were completed in the last 6 years up to the 31 March 2015.

4.1 Court proceedings

In the year ending 31 March 2015, there were 52 trials completed by the CPS CTD for terrorism-related offences. In 42 (81%) of these cases, the defendant was convicted. In the remaining 10 cases, the defendant was acquitted.

The principal offence for which these defendants were tried against came under a range of both terrorism-related (TACT) legislation and non-terrorism-related (non-TACT) legislation. Details of the specific offences for which individuals have been prosecuted and convicted against can be found in tables C.02 and C.03.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data tables C.01-C.03.

Chart Notes:

  1. Based on the principal offence for which the defendant was prosecuted against.

4.2 Sentencing

A total of 42 persons were convicted of terrorism-related offences in the year ending 31 March 2015. Of these, 27 pleaded guilty and 15 entered a not guilty plea.

Of the 42 persons convicted of terrorism-related offences in the year ending 31 March 2015, 25 persons were given sentence lengths of under 4 years, 9 were given sentence lengths of between 4 and 10 years, and 6 were given sentence lengths of more than 10 years. No persons were given a life sentence for terrorism-related offences in the year ending 31 March 2015.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data tables C.04.

Chart Notes:

  1. Based on the trial completion date.
  2. The ‘other’ category includes hospital orders and non-custodial sentences.

Further breakdowns of sentences for those convicted of terrorism-related offences, including breakdowns of those convicted for TACT and non-TACT offences can be found in table C.04.

4.3 Appeals

Over the 6 year period from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2015 there have been a total of 53 appeals against terrorism convictions heard by the courts, of which 44 (83%) were either dismissed by the court or abandoned by appellants prior to the decision being made. No appeals resulted in convictions being quashed over the 6 years; however, 8 appeals (6 in the year ending 31 March 2010 and 2 in the year ending 31 March 2015) resulted in a sentence being reduced and 1 appeal (in the year ending March 2015) resulted in a sentence being increased.

4.4 Data tables

Data to accompany this section can be found in tables C.01 to C.05.

4.5 Data quality and interpreting the figures

In line with the normal procedures for criminal justice statistics, and in order to present data on the number of persons dealt with by CPS CTD (rather than the number of individual offences), data in this section are presented on a principal offence basis. This means that if an individual is proceeded against for multiple offences at the same time, the most serious offence is the one counted in these data. If an individual is subsequently proceeded against on another occasion for a different offence, the additional case will also be included in the dataset.

Due to the complex nature of terrorism investigations, court proceedings may take place several years after an arrest or charge takes place. Trials completed in a particular time period may relate to arrests that have taken place at an earlier period. For example, a person sentenced in the year ending 31 March 2015 may have been arrested in the year ending 31 March 2014. Statistics presented here are based on the trial completion data and are not directly comparable to the court proceedings data in section 3 (arrests and outcomes). Data in section 3 are based on the time of arrest.

5. Terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners

Statistics presented in this section give information on the number of persons in custody for terrorism-related offences and domestic extremism/separatism in Great Britain. It includes breakdowns of the ethnicity, nationality and religion of prisoners at a given time. Data on the number of terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners released from custody are also available in this section.

Data are provided to the Home Office by NOMS and the SPS. The data give information about the prison population at the end of each of the last 6 financial years to 31 March 2015. Data on the number of prisoners released in each of the last 6 years up to 31 March 2015 are also provided.

5.1 Persons in custody

As at 31 March 2015, there were 192 persons in custody in Great Britain for terrorism-related offences and domestic extremism/separatism. This comprised of:

  • 122 persons in custody for terrorism-related offences
  • 70 persons in custody for domestic extremism/separatism

This was an increase of 38 persons compared with the situation as at 31 March 2014, and was driven by a rise in both the number of domestic extremist/separatist prisoners (following the convictions of a number of individuals following English Defence League (EDL) rallies in the latter part of the financial year) and, to a lesser extent, the number of terrorism-related prisoners.

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data tables P.01.

The demographic breakdown of those in custody differed between those in custody for terrorism-related offences and those in custody for domestic extremism/separatism.

As at 31 March 2015, of the 122 persons in prison for terrorism-related offences:

  • 118 considered themselves to be Muslim
  • 60% considered themselves to be of ‘Asian or Asian British’ ethnicity (excluding cases where ethnicity was unrecorded)
  • 83% considered themselves to be of ‘British’ nationality (excluding cases where nationality was unrecorded)
Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table P.02.

Chart Notes:

  1. Does not include persons in custody for domestic extremism/separatism.
  2. Excludes cases where ethnicity was not recorded.
  3. There was nobody in custody for terrorism-related offences, as at 31 March 2015, whose self-defined ethnicity came under the ‘Chinese or Other’ category.
  4. Due to rounding, these percentages do not add up to 100.

As at 31 March 2015, of the 70 persons in prison for domestic extremism/separatism:

  • the majority (39) considered themselves to be Christian, and 26 considered themselves to have no religion
  • all but one person considered themselves to be of ‘White’ ethnicity
  • 94% considered themselves to be of ‘British’ nationality (excluding cases where nationality was unrecorded)

The nationality of those in custody for terrorism-related offences and domestic extremism/separatism was split across at least 18 different countries. In both cases, the majority (83% and 94% respectively) of these were from the United Kingdom. Further details on the ethnicity, nationality and religion of those in custody can be found in tables P.02 to P.04.

5.2 Persons released from custody

A total of 97 terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners were released from custody in Great Britain in the year ending 31 March 2015, up 87% from the 52 released in the previous year. Seventy-seven of the 97 releases were persons discharged from custody after serving their sentences, many of whom will have been released to license conditions. For more details on releases from custody, see the user guide.

Of the 97 terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners released from custody, the majority (65) had sentence lengths of less than 4 years. Further details on the sentence lengths of those released from custody can be found in table table P.04.

5.3 Data tables

Data to accompany this section can be found in tables P.01 to P.06.

5.4 Data quality and interpreting the figures

Data presented in this section include persons held on remand as well as those held after conviction or sentencing. Categories for types of prisoners are based on assessment at the time of entering custody. Full definitions of these categories can be found in the user guide.

Self-declared religion is given by prisoners on entry to prison. Some prisoners may subsequently change religion. These changes will not be accounted for in the figures. As with all self-declared characteristics, self-declared religion, self-declared ethnicity and self-declared nationality assume that the prisoner has given the correct details. This may not always be the case.

Due to the relatively small numbers of persons in custody for terrorism-related offences, caution is needed when examining the ethnic breakdown of those in custody. Small changes in the number of persons belonging to each ethnic group can lead to large percentage changes.

6. Stop and search

This section presents statistics on the use of stop and search powers available to the police under TACT 2000. It includes data on the number of section 43 stops and searches, and resultant arrests carried out by the MPS. It also includes data on the number of examinations carried out in Great Britain under Schedule 7 to TACT 2000, and the number of police cordons set up under section 33 of TACT 2000.

Data on section 43 stops and searches are provided to the Home Office by the MPS. Data on Schedule 7 is provided to the Home Office by the NCTPHQ. This section covers the number of stops and searches, and examinations that were carried out each year between the year ending 31 March 2010 and the year ending 31 March 2015.

The police have the power to stop and search individuals under section 47A (previously 44) of the Terrorism Act 2000. However, since the legislation was formally amended in 2011, to significantly higher the threshold for authorisation of the power, there have been zero stops and searches under this power. See the user guide for more details. Data on the number of section 44/47A stops and searches carried out by police in England and Wales since the year ending 31 March 2004 can be found in the annual Police Powers and Procedures publication.

6.1 Stops and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 43 of TACT 2000 allows a constable to stop and search a person whom he reasonably suspects to be involved in terrorist activity. As many forces are unable to separate s43 TACT stops and searches from other stops and searches, this section includes data from the MPS only and excludes ‘vehicle only’ stops and searches.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, 411 persons were stopped and searched by the MPS under section 43 of TACT 2000. This represents a fall of 9% on the previous year total of 450. Since the year ending 31 March 2010, there have been year-on-year falls in the number of section 43 stops and searches carried out by the MPS. There has been a fall of two-thirds in the year ending 31 March 2015, compared with the year ending 31 March 2010. Throughout the same period, the number of resultant arrests have remained steady, leading to an increase in the arrest rate, which was up 5 percentage points to 7% in the year ending 31 March 2015, compared with 2% in the year ending 31 March 2010. This is in line with wider falls seen in all stop and search across England and Wales, under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which together saw a fall of 30% in the year ending 31 March 2014 compared with the year ending 31 March 2010 (see the Home Office Police Powers and Procedures release for details).

Figure 6.1 Stops and searches and resultant arrests under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 20001, Metropolitan Police Service

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table S.01.

Chart Notes:

  1. Excludes ‘vehicle only’ searches.

The number of people stopped and searched under section 43 of TACT 2000 fell for every ethnicity between the year ending 31 March 2014 and the year ending 31 March 2015, except for those who self-defined as White, which saw a 9% increase.

Those who self-defined as White were subject to the most stops and searches, accounting for 45% of the total (excluding those who did not state their ethnicity) in the year ending 31 March 2015. This must be considered in line with ethnic breakdowns of both the residential and transient population of the area. According to the 2011 census (by ethnic group by sex by age), 60% of the residential population of London considered themselves to be White. Transient populations are likely to differ from residential populations meaning the ethnic breakdown of those who the police have contact with is likely to differ from the residential population breakdowns.

6.2 Examinations under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000

Schedule 7 to TACT 2000 allows an examining officer to stop and question individuals travelling through ports, airports, international rail stations or the border area. When necessary they may also detain and search individuals. The aim is to determine whether that person appears to be someone who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, a total of 31,769 examinations were conducted under this power in Great Britain, a fall of 28% on the previous year. Initial thoughts around the likely causes of this fall include a more targeted approach when using the power, and a shift in focus to passengers leaving, rather than entering the country.

Throughout the same period, the number of detentions following examinations almost tripled, from 517 in the year ending 31 March 2014 to 1,311 in the year ending 31 March 2015. The increase in the number of detentions follows the introduction of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in August 2014, which amended the powers under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to ensure that a mandatory detention takes place where an examination lasts for more than an hour.

Figure 6.2 Number of Schedule 7 examinations and number which led to a subsequent detention

Not supplied by author.

Source: Home Office, data table S.03.

The fall in the number of examinations fell across all ethnic groups, most notably ‘White’, which saw a fall of more than 8,000 examinations (or 44%) in the year ending 31 March 2015 compared with the previous year.

The proportion of those examined whose ethnicity was ‘White’ has declined since the year ending 31 March 2011, showing a drop of 10 percentage points in the year ending 31 March 2015 compared with the previous year. The proportion of those examined whose ethnicity was defined as ‘Asian or Asian British’ saw a steady decrease between the year ending 31 March 2011 and the year ending 31 March 2014, before increasing (by 5 percentage points) in the year ending 31 March 2015.

Table 6.01 Schedule 7 examinations by ethnicity1,2

Percentages         Great Britain
        Year ending  
Ethnicity (%) 31 Mar 2011 31 Mar 2012 31 Mar 2013 31 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2015
White 41 43 42 45 36
Mixed 3 3 4 5 7
Black or Black British 9 9 10 9 9
Asian or Asian British 30 28 25 22 27
Chinese or Other 17 18 19 18 22

Source: Home Office, data table S.03.

Chart Notes:

  1. Excludes cases ethnicity was ‘not stated’.
  2. Prior to the year ending 31 March 2011, the Home Office did not collect ethnic breakdowns of persons examined or detained.

6.3 Cordons under section 33 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 33 of TACT 2000 gives police officers of at least the rank of superintendent the power to authorise the use of a cordon in an area where it is considered expedient to do so for the purposes of a terrorist investigation. A police officer may order persons and drivers to leave cordoned areas, and prohibit pedestrian or vehicle access. Cordons are typically set up to investigate a suspected package or to deal with the consequences of a terrorism-related incident. Further information on this power can be found in the user guide.

In the year ending 31 March 2015, there were 31 cordons set up in Great Britain, almost double the number set up the previous year. Eleven of these were set up by Greater Manchester Police. Further details on police cordons can be found in table S.04.

6.4 Data tables

Data to accompany this section can be found in tables S.01 to S.04.

6.5 Data quality and interpreting the figures

Ethnicities of search recipients reported under section 43, 47A and Schedule 7 are self-defined, and therefore may differ from the actual ethnicities of persons searched in a small number of cases. For example, the persons stopped and searched may give a false ethnicity at the time of the search.

The use of stop and search practices are regularly reviewed by the Home Office, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, and other policing-related bodies, to ensure the practices are used fairly and proportionally. Such reviews can affect the way in which police officers enforce stop and search powers, which will in turn have an impact on the figures in this section.

Due to the relatively small number of persons stopped and searched by the MPS under section 43 of TACT 2000, caution is needed when examining the ethnic breakdown of those arrested as a result of such stops and searches. Small changes in the number of persons belonging to each ethnic group can lead to large percentage changes.

7. User feedback

In the year to 31 December 2014 publication a user survey was included, to invite views on the proposed changes to the quarterly terrorism statistics releases, in addition to seeking more general feedback about the releases. This survey is still running, and we invite users to have their say by completing the short survey.

Following conversations with data providers and feedback from users, the Home Office intends to publish more timely data in subsequent quarterly releases in this series. Previously data have been published around 6 months after the time period they refer to. In future releases, the Home Office aims to reduce this period to 3 months, subject to data being available and quality assured.

The next release, published in the winter 2015 to 2016, is intended to include data up to the 30 September 2015. It is intended that the published data will be accompanied by a reduced amount of commentary, which will focus only on the key trends in the data. The full range of usual data tables will be available.

8. Revisions analysis

This section gives some general information about data revisions between releases. Where major changes are made, they are outlined below. There have been no such changes in this release.

8.1 Arrests and outcomes

As data for the section are drawn from a live database, most of the differences between releases are a result of case progression over time. For example, in historic years/quarters the number of persons bailed to return pending further investigation, and those awaiting trial, show small decreases between releases as more investigations and trials are complete. This in turn leads to small increases in the number of persons charged or released without charge, as well as convicted and given other outcomes.

On some occasions changes in classifications of offences can cause more significant changes. However, no such changes occurred for this release.

8.2 Court proceedings

Figures presented in this section are based on completed cases. Therefore revisions are not expected between releases, unless a conviction is quashed as a result of appeal. No sentences have been quashed in recent years and therefore no recent submissions have been made between releases.

8.3 Terrorist and extremist/separatist prisoners

Prisoner population figures presented in this release are based on population at specific dates which are not expected to change retrospectively. There have been no recent revisions to this section between releases.

8.4 Stop and search

Stop and search data are drawn from administrative systems held by the police. Therefore on some occasions revisions may be made, for example where details of a search have been entered into the system and additional details (such as the outcome of the search) subsequently arise. No recent revisions have been made to this section between releases.