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Prevention of Terrorism Bill receives Royal Assent

Reference: 049/2005 - Date: 14 Mar 2005 10:25

The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 received Royal Assent on Friday. The Act introduces a system of control orders designed to disrupt and prevent terrorist activity.

Non-derogating control orders allow the Home Secretary to impose a range of conditions including a ban on internet or mobile phone use, restrictions on movement and travel, restrictions on associations with named individuals and the use of tagging for the purposes of monitoring curfews. 

The Home Secretary is required to apply for leave from a judge of the High Court in order to make a non-derogating control order.  In an urgent case where it is not possible to wait for leave from a judge, the Home Secretary will certify as to the urgency of the case on the face of the order and it will take effect immediately. In this case the order must be referred immediately to the Court for confirmation within seven days, and if confirmed, it would be referred for a full hearing.

The Act also makes provision for the Home Secretary to apply to a court for the court to make a derogating control order which could require someone to remain in a particular place at all times, if the threat to the UK changes.  A designated derogation order, derogating from Article 5 of the ECHR, would need to be made before the Home Secretary could apply to the court for a derogating control order. The designated derogation order would be made and laid before Parliament. It would come into force immediately, but would need to be confirmed by both Houses, following a debate, within 40 days.

The Act also includes a requirement that the powers to make control orders, both derogating and non-derogating, will lapse unless renewed annually by a vote by both Houses. The powers could be revived if they have lapsed by a further order subject to a vote by both Houses of Parliament.

Other proposals already in the Bill require the Home Secretary to:

·        appoint an independent reviewer to produce a report on the whole Act to Parliament annually;

·        report to Parliament every three months on the use made of the control order powers during that period; and

·        annual renewal of the power to make derogating orders.

The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, said:

“I have always maintained that my first priority is to ensure the safety and security of the public.  Wherever possible, prosecution is our preferred way of dealing with suspected terrorists.   But where this is not possible, control orders provide a valuable tool to disrupt and prevent terrorist-related activity.

“We do not take such powers lightly and I fully appreciate the legitimate concerns that have been expressed.  However, I can assure everyone that the threat is real and serious and the powers we have taken are absolutely necessary.  I have done my best to accommodate amendments and have taken unprecedented steps in talking to the opposition parties, both before the statement that I made to the House of Commons on the 26 January and during the passage of the Act. 

“These are very difficult issues. However, we now have an Act that answers the criticisms the House of Lords made on the Anti-Terrorism Crime Security Act part 4 powers, is compliant with the ECHR and will provide the police and security authorities with a valuable tool to counter the terrorist threat.”

Notes To Editors:

1.      The Prevention of Terrorism Act is available on at www.hmso.gov.uk

Published: 14 Mar 2005


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Source: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk