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Terrorism in Great Britain: the statistics

Published Friday, October 6, 2017

This briefing examines the available statistics on terrorism since 2001 in Great Britain.

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The beginning of this millennium saw an increased political focus on the threat from international terrorism, heightened by the attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. Only one year previous to 9/11, new counter-terrorism legislation had been passed in the UK. Designed to reform and extend state powers found in previous counter-terrorism legislation, the Terrorism Act 2000 gives increased powers to the Home Secretary and the police to combat terrorism and moved the focus of counter-terrorist activities away solely from Northern Ireland to all forms of domestic and international terrorism.

In 2003, the Government introduced its counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. Now in its third iteration, CONTEST aims to reduce the risk to the UK from terrorism with four objectives:

  • Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks
  • Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism
  • Protect: to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack
  • Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

Statistics relating to terrorism and the use of counter-terrorist legislation have been collected by the Home Office since the 1970s. The publication (and consistent collection) of data was halted in 2001. Home Office statistical bulletins on terrorism statistics resumed in 2008.This break in comparative data collation means the start date for the majority of data relating to counter-terrorism legislation passed since the millennium is 11 September 2001.

This briefing examines the available statistics on terrorism since 2001 in Great Britain including:

  • Deaths due to terrorism
  • The use of stop and search legislation
  • Terrorism arrests
  • Pre-charge detention periods
  • Prosecutions and convictions for terrorism
  • Terrorist prisoners
  • The use of Control Orders and TPIMS
  • The number of foreign fighters fighting in Syria

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7613

Authors: Noel Dempsey; Grahame Allen; Ben Politowski

Topics: Criminal law, Terrorism

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