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Terrorism arrests and outcomes 2015/16

Terrorism arrests and outcomes 2015/16

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday July 20 2016

The Home Office recently published statistics on the use of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation. The report covers terrorism-related arrests, outcomes and stop and search figures for the financial year ending 31 March 2016.

Below are some of the key findings:

255 individuals were arrested for terrorism-related offences in the 2015/16 financial year, a reduction of 46, or 15%, from the previous year with 86 (34%) of those arrested being subsequently charged. The majority of people arrested were either released without charge (97 or 38%) or released on bail (64 or 25%).

The proportion of people charged following a terrorism-related arrest has fallen from 42% in 2014/15 to 34% in 2015/16. Over half of the 301 individuals arrested in 2014/15 were released without charge.

76 individuals were charged with a terrorism-related offence in 2015/16, a decrease of 35 (32%) from the previous year. Overall, 30% of terrorism-related arrests in 2015/16 have led to terrorism-related charges, down from 36% in 2014/15.

Media coverage around the release of the statistics has focused heavily on the “record levels of suspected female terrorists arrested” in the last year.

The statistics show that 36 females faced terrorism-related arrests in 2015/16, a nominal increase of just one from the 35 arrested the previous year. The proportion of individuals convicted following a terrorism-related charge who are female was 11% in both years, showing no change. It should also be noted that the number of females charged with terrorism has almost halved over the previous two years, from 12 in 2013/14 to 7 in 2015/16 though media coverage has tended to focus more on arrests than on charges brought.

According to the Home Office report, the overall reduction in number of terrorism related arrests has been driven by a fall in arrests of people from White and Black ethnic groups , which fell by a quarter (from 88 to 66 arrests) and a half (from 49 to 25 arrests) respectively. Arrests of those from Asian ethnic groups, which made up more than half (55%) of all arrests in the year ending 31 March 2016, remained relatively stable.

76% of individuals arrested on terrorism-related offences in 2015/16 were British nationals, the same proportion as the previous year. 72% of those convicted following a terrorism-related charge were British, falling from 81% in the previous year.

Stop and Search

Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows police constables to stop and search a person whom they reasonably suspect to be involved in terrorist activity. Media coverage of the statistical release has failed to make mention of the stop and search figures for 2015/16, which show a marked rise in the numbers being stopped and searched. 541 people were stopped and searched by the Metropolitan Police Service in 2015/16 under Schedule 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, an increase of 32%, or 131, from 2014/15.

67 people were subsequently arrested after being stopped and searched in 2015/16, an increase of 40 from the previous year. This gives a ‘hit rate’ – the proportion of people arrested after being stopped and searched – of just 12%. Although this is an increase from a hit rate of 7% the previous year, it is still considerably low. Given the Home Secretary’s roll-out of the ‘Best Use of Stop and Search’ scheme in 2014, the figures show that still more needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of stop and search.

27% of those stopped and searched in 2015/16 identified themselves as being of Asian or Asian British ethnicity, the same proportion who identified as White. Given that 3 in 5 Londoners are White and just under 1 in 5 are Asian or Asian British, this makes it three times more likely for people of Asian or Asian British ethnicity to be stopped and searched in the capital than their White counterparts.

Section 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000 gives police the power to stop and search a person if they reasonable suspect an act of terrorism will take place. A higher level of authorisation is now required to use this power than was required under previous legislation (Section 44). Since March 2011, when the current Section 47A legislation was enforced, and May 2015, zero stops have been made under the power. Unlike previous years, data on the use of Section 47A for the 2015/16 financial year has not been included in this report.

Schedule 7 examinations

Individuals entering or leaving the country may be stopped and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, if they are suspected of involvement in terrorism related activity.

Over 26,000 examinations were made under Schedule 7 in 2015/16, a reduction of over 5,600, or 18%, from the previous year. The number of examinations lasting more than an hour only fell by 5% however, from 1,900 in 2015/16 to 1,800 in 2014/15. 7% of all examinations made in 2015/16 lasted more than an hour.

The number of detentions resulting from examinations increased heavily, from 1,300 in 2014/15 to 1,800 in 2015/16. This rise in detentions has been attributed to the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in August 2014, which amended the powers under Schedule 7 to ensure that a mandatory detention takes place where an examination lasts for more than an hour.

The number of examinations against those of White, Mixed and Black or Black African ethnicity fell by a huge amount, over 30%, from a total of 15,000 in 2014/15 to 10,200 in 2015/16. The number of examinations against Asian or Asian British individuals however only fell 3%, from 8,000 in 2014/15 to 7,800 in 2015/16.

Examinations made under Schedule 7 in 2014/15 and 2015/16, by ethnic group


Detentions made under Schedule 7 in 2014/15 and 2015/16, by ethnic group








30% of those examined under Schedule 7 were of Asian or Asian British ethnicity, while 27% of examinations were of individuals self-identifying as having a White ethnic background. Given that 87% of the total population is White and only 7% is Asian or Asian British ethnicity, this makes it 13 times more likely for a British/ Asian individual to be examined under Schedule 7 than a White individual.

650 of the 1,800 individuals detained following a Schedule 7 examination were of Asian or Asian British ethnicity. This is an increase of almost 200 from the 450 detained in 2014/15.

mend has consistently highlighted the disproportionate impact of terrorism legislation on Muslim communities. In his September 2015 annual report, reviewing terrorism legislation, the independent reviewer, David Anderson QC, called for people who object to the way in which the powers are exercised to take the opportunity to complain to the relevant authorities though he rejected the notion of race disproportionality in the exercise of Schedule 7 powers.


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