New terrorist exclusion powers never used
POWERS to control the return of Britons suspected of involvement in terrorist activities abroad are yet to be used, almost two years after they were introduced.
Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs) were unveiled amid warnings over the potential danger posed by battle-hardened extremists re-entering the country after the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS).
They aim to disrupt the return of UK nationals radicalised while fighting overseas and passed this into law on February 2015. But it has emerged no TEOs have been issued so far, sparking calls for ministers to explain why they have not been deployed.
The Home Office said the Government remains ready to use the powers. The question of how to manage the return of those who have fought alongside extremist groups such as so-called IS has emerged as a challenge for counter-terrorism agencies.
About 850 UK-linked individuals of “national security concern” have travelled to engage with the Syrian conflict, with just under half thought to have come back.
The disclosure on TEOs was contained in a report by Professor Emeritus Clive Walker, QC, a senior special adviser to terror laws watchdog David Anderson, QC.
Several practical difficulties may be standing in the way of effective enforcement, suggested the paper on “foreign terrorist fighters” (FTFs), which was published last month.
It said: “One is that some would-be FTFs will actually return on the terms of the sending state by way of deportation. The second problem is the complexity of detection, at least until arrival at a UK port.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “It is right that use of this power is considered on a caseby-case basis.
“The power continues to be one of a number of tools available to law enforcement and security agencies to manage the threat posed by individuals suspected of terrorism-related activities overseas, and we remain ready to use it.”