New ter­ror­ist ex­clu­sion pow­ers never used

The Herald - - NEWS -

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.”

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