The man in charge of reviewing UK terrorism laws has spoken out to suggest that police should consider granting bail to some suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.
David Anderson QC believes that granting bail may actually be advantageous in some cases and has urged the Government to review the law as it stands.
In his annual report on the use of terror legislation Mr Anderson wrote that it was understandable that key suspects in terror cases were denied bail, but added that the same provisions are perhaps excessive for peripheral players.
The existing law permits bail for suspects arrested under some of the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006.
Mr Anderson also backs a review of the law on stop and search at ports and airports on terrorism grounds.
“Suspected murderers and rapists enjoy the presumption of bail, even if they are not likely in practice to be granted it,” wrote Mr Anderson.
“The need to place suspected terrorists in a separate category is not evident,” he added.
Mr Anderson believes that granting bail might actually benefit police in some cases. Granting bail resets the clock on detention allowing investigators time to gather further evidence.
According to Home Office figures there were 121 terror arrests in the UK between 2010 and 2011, of which some 50 were made under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
Mr Anderson believes that the time may have come to redress the balance of legislation in favour of liberty. He described existing laws as “bitty, messy and hard to comprehend”.
In his report he stresses that terrorism is a crime and that legislation to deal with it must be justified by the nature of the crime.
His comments come shortly after a warning from the director-general of Mi5 that the UK faces a worrying new threat from British-born terrorists in the wake of the Arab-spring uprisings.
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