London – Arrests of minors under counter terrorism legislation have reached record levels, amounting to 16% of all arrests between July 2021-June 2022 as revealed in the latest statistics. The overwhelming majority of them appear to be for ‘online offences’, leading to a record high number of non-custodial sentences, further underscoring the dragnet use of counter-terror policing and the judicial system for prosecuting offences which courts themselves do not believe pose a risk to the public.
Schedule 7 stops, which our research found amount to Islamophobic harassment at UK borders, have continued to fall year on year, partly due to increased public scrutiny on the police through concerted campaigns that CAGE and others have led on. Following 20 years of its use, reaching a height of 85k stops in 2009/10, there is less of a need for that level of mass intelligence gathering after arguably much of the British Muslim traveller base has been profiled and discriminated against.
The bodies charged with checking police excesses such as the, the Terror Watchdog and the courts have failed in their duty to curtail this abuse of power and have allowed for systemic Islamophobia to become intrenched.
Anecdotal data that CAGE has seen through our casework has identified a rise in the use of undocumented ‘screenings’ under Schedule 7. These happen before a formal detention and help conceal the true impact of the policy.
Nonetheless, the downward trend underscores the importance of campaigning against draconian state powers. Yet this is something which has been made more difficult by the government’s refusal to publish transparent data relating to the use of counter-terror powers by faith group, therefore obscuring the extent of Islamophobia under British counter-terrorism.
It is vital that, going forward, the government published Schedule 7 stops by self-defined religion, and documents the number of raids carried out by counter-terror police, as well as how many actually lead to arrests and charges.
CAGE do not accept the notion that use of invasive, Islamophobic powers such as Schedule 7 can ever be considered ‘proportionate’, and continue to call for a repeal of all counter-terror laws instituted since 2000.
We’ve issued a summary of the data which can be viewed here:
An overview of the latest counter terrorism statistics
The Home Office published their latest statistics release on the use of powers under the Terrorism Acts between July 2021 up to the end of June 2022.
- 203 individuals were arrested for terrorism-related activity.
Of those 25% were released without charge (50)
- Highest ever number (33) of under 18 year olds arrested – 16% of all arrestees.
- Most common offences charged are for Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Collection) and Section 2 Terrorism Act 2006 (Dissemination) – with 10 charges each.
- Most common offences convicted are for Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Collection) and Section 2 Terrorism Act 2006 (Dissemination) – with 4 convictions each.
- Highest ever number (14) of non-custodial sentences issued for convictions by the Crown Prosecution Service (24% of CPS convictions).
- 66% of prisoners (157) in custody for terror-related offences held ‘Islamist Extremist ideology’
- 2,830 Schedule 7 stops for 2,662 individuals – down from a high of 85,557 stops recorded in the year to March 2010.
- Schedule 7 stops included 1,311 occasions (46%) where biometric samples (including DNA, fingerprints and/or photographs) were taken, as well as 5 strip searches and 5 occasions where the detainee had access to a solicitor delayed.
The starkest statistics related to the increased use of counter-terrorism powers on children, with the highest ever number of under 18 year olds being arrested between this period (33 arrests, 16% of all arrests).
As noted by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on his recent report on online terror offences, there has been a troubling increase in minors being arrested for online terror-related offences – which according to him ‘calls into question the use of special powers in the minds of the public and, as I have witnessed, in the minds of police officers required to exercise those powers.’.
The most common offences charged and convicted over the past year are for Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Collection) and Section 2 Terrorism Act 2006 (Dissemination) – with 10 charges, and 4 convictions each.
Both of these are ‘non-violent’ offences that are very likely connected to consumption of sharing of terrorist-designated online or digital content.
Furthermore, of the 58 terrorism-related convictions concluded by the Crown Prosecution Services, this past year saw the highest ever proportion of non-custodial sentences (14 – 24% of convictions).
As noted in the Independent Reviewer report on online terror offences, ‘children charged with online terrorism offences are routinely granted bail, and if convicted are routinely given non-custodial sentences’ – further underscoring the use of counter-terror policing and the judicial system for prosecuting offences which courts themselves do not believe pose a risk to the public.
Other statistics contained in the publication indicate consistent patterns – with 66% of prisoners (157 prisoners) in custody for terror-related offences holding ‘Islamist Extremist ideology, down slightly from 70% in the year previous.
The statistics also document the continued decline in the use of Schedule 7 stops, with 2,830 stops for 2,662 individuals – down from a high of 85,557 stops recorded in the year to March 2010.
These stops included 1,311 occasions where biometric samples (including DNA, fingerprints and/or photographs) were taken, constituting 46% of stops.
They also included 5 strip searches and 5 occasions where the detainee had access to a solicitor delayed, under powers granted by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.
Image courtesy of Unsplash
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)