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Terrorism in Great Britain: the statistics

Published Thursday, June 9, 2016

A paper examining some of the key terrorism statistics in Great Britain since 9/11. Data considered includes arrests, stop and search, prosecutions and convictions TPIMs and foreign fighters.

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The beginning of the millennium saw an increased political focus on the threat of 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 gave increased powers to the Home Secretary and police to combat terrorism, moving the focus of counter-terrorist activities away from Northern Ireland to all forms of domestic and international terrorism throughout the UK.

Statistics relating to terrorism and the use of counter-terrorist legislation have been collected by the Home Office since the 1970s. However, the publication and consistent collection of data was halted in 2001. Home Office statistical bulletins on terrorism statistics resumed in 2008, but a 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, despite the Terrorism Act coming into force earlier that year.

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

The main source of data on terrorism in Great Britain is the Home Office statistical release, Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000, which is a quarterly bulletin. This is the source of data used in this briefing, except where specified. The data in this paper generally covers the period until 31 December 2015, unless otherwise given. The next statistical release by the Home Office is expected at the end of June 2016, and will cover the full 2015/16 financial year.

With the exception of the number of deaths due to terrorism, data in this paper relates solely to Great Britain, i.e. England, Wales and Scotland. This is largely due to the application of different and more varied counter-terrorist legislation in Northern Ireland, and the different counting rules used in Northern Ireland’s terrorism statistics, making it difficult to compare with the rest of the country. Terrorism statistics for Northern Ireland are available from the Northern Ireland Office and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7613

Author: Ben Politowski

Topics: Criminal law, Terrorism

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