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Four per cent of Terrorism Act arrests result in convictions

13 August 2010

Less than four per cent of people arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 last year were actually convicted, a survey has shown.

The proportion of arrests resulting in convictions during the entire ten-year period since the Act was introduced was 13 per cent, research for legal publishers Sweet & Maxwell found.

The research, based on Home Office data, compared this with a conviction rate of 31 per cent for people arrested for all indictable offences.

The Act gave police wider powers to arrest without charge for an initial period of 48 hours, which, since 2006, can be extended to 28 days. Police were also given the power to stop and search without reasonable suspicion or a warrant, and to seize money likely to be used for the purposes of terrorism.

“The concern has always been that most individuals arrested under the draconian powers of the Terrorism Act 2000 could have been dealt with just as effectively under other areas of criminal law,” Stephen Grosz, head of public law at Bindmans, said.

“These statistics do suggest that the police may have been far quicker to make use of powers of arrest under the Act than was necessary.

“Nobody should underplay the threat of terrorism but the government and the police need to ensure that the civil liberties of a rising number of individuals are not being unnecessarily curtailed.”

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