There has been an almost constant ramping-up of anti-terror legislation in the UK since the 9/11 bombings in 2001. Legislation passed that year set the context for subsequent laws. In the wake of the 7/7 bombings, 10 years ago today, the New Labour government introduced a new wave of legislation. This timeline tells the story of what followed.
7 July 2005
Suicide bombings in London, killing 56 (including the four bombers) and injuring 700.
Charles Clarke statement in House of Commons about planned Terrorism Act, which would include the offences of committing acts preparatory to terrorism; indirect incitement to (“glorification of”) terrorism; and giving and receiving of terrorist training.
Tony Blair press statement on planned legislation when he famously stated “The rules of the game are changing”: “coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life.”
Walter Wolfgang, 82, Labour Party activist who had fled Nazi Germany, physically ejected from Labour Party Conference under Section 44 of the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act for shouting “nonsense” during Jack Straw’s speech on the Iraq War.
Metropolitan police write to Home Secretary Charles Clarke asking for “an extension to the maximum period of detention without charge to three months”, arguing that the threat from “international terrorism” is “completely different” from that previously posed by the IRA.
Government amendment extending detention to 90 days is defeated. This is Tony Blair’s first defeat in Parliament. “Ninety days for a South African is an awful deja-vu because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention law” – Desmond Tutu.
30 March 2006
The Terrorism Act 2006 given Royal Assent.
8 November 2007
23-year old poet Samina Malik is first woman in the UK to be convicted under the 2001 Terrorism Act. The conviction was later quashed as “unsafe”.
24 January 2008
The Government introduces its Counter-Terrorism Bill, with proposals to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days (extended from 28 days), create secret inquests, allow post-charge questioning, longer sentences, creation of a terrorism register, travel bans, allowing phone tapping as court evidence, asset-seizing, taking DNA from people under control orders. Jacqui Smith accuses opponents of being “prepared to ignore the terrorist threat”
26 November 2008
The Counter-Terrorism Act, with the 42 days shelved, and the secret inquests dropped, is given Royal Assent.
12 November 2009
The Coroners and Justice Act enables secret inquests to be held. “It will affect those really sensitive cases, where for example police shoot somebody dead or somebody dies in very strange circumstances in prison” – Baroness Miller.
16 December 2010
The Con-Dems’ Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act gives the government powers that are described as “intrusive and humiliating” and amounting “to financial house arrest” by an independent report to the Treasury. This replaced temporary provisions rushed through by New Labour after a UK Supreme Court had ruled their use of such powers as unlawful earlier that year.
14 December 2011
Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 replaces Control Orders with TPIMs or “terrorist, prevention and investigation measures”. Scrapping control orders had been a major Lib Dem election pledge. The new legislation is described as a “rebranding” in The Guardian.
1 May 2012
Protection of Freedoms Act includes clauses reducing pre-detention of terrorist suspects to a maximum of 14 days, and removing the “stop and search” regulations from the Terrorism Act 2000.
12 February 2015
Counter-Terrorism and Security Act extends the Home Secretary’s powers to require communications companies to store data, reintroduces internal exile, and makes PREVENT strategy a legal obligation for teachers, lecturers, health professionals and social workers.
The story in numbers
2,297 People arrested in connection in the UK September 2001 – August 2012
838 and then charged
1,066 Muslims arrested
436 and then charged
149 Other or no religion
55 and then charged
1,082 Unknown religion
347 and then charged
8.3 years average sentence length for Muslims
6.9 years for other or no religion
5.9 years for unknown religion
60 life sentences for Muslims
17 life sentences for other or no religion