A quick guide and brief summary of the parts of the British Terrorism Act 2000 of relevance to radical workers.
"Terrorism" is defined very widely and could include what people would normally think of as direct action. It gives the Police very wide powers to stop search and arrest, and limits people's rights - including on arrest. The Act has been (mis-)used extensively against workers - most famously against 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang who heckled Tony Blair and the Labour Party conference in 2005.1
Terrorism as defined by S1 of the TA 2000
The THREAT of action (threat is enough - no actual action needed)-which is designed to influence the government , with the purpose of advancing a political or ideological cause, involving :
- serious damage to property
- interference with or seriously disrupting an electronic system.
This is only part of the definition, and does not include actions which we would normally think of as being defined as terrorism.
All 3 parts must be satisfied to come within the definition - there must be an act or threat (of eg serious damage to property), it must be done to influence the government, and it must be to advance a political or ideolgical cause.
S33 Cordoned areas
Where the Police are undertaking a "terrorist investigation (preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism- see definition above) they can cordon off an area. Lasts for 14 days, can be extended to max of 28 days.
While an area is cordoned, Police can order people to leave and prohibit access to that area.
Police can arrest at any time anyone they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist (see definition above). Detention can be for up to 48 hours (extension can then be applied for to court) access to a lawyer can be denied and normal PACE rules do not apply.
Police can stop and search to see if a person has anything on them to prove they are a terrorist - must be same sex search.
S44 Stop and search powers
Authorization is given by Assistant Chief Constable and can only be given to prevent acts of terrorism.
It relates to a specified area and can last for up to 28 days.
It an only be used to search for things that could be used for terrorism, BUT Police can search even if they don't have grounds to suspect that people have anything on them of this kind.
They can search pedestrians and anything carried by them, cars, drivers passengers and anything they have with them
Police can't ask for removal of any clothing in public except hats shoes jacket/coat and gloves.
Police can detain people for as long as is reasonable to search
Police can use "reasonable force"
If you are searched under this section you can ask for a written statement from the police to confirm you were stopped, and they must give you one - so that makes it all OK then!
Where an authorisation is given it must be confirmed (or cancelled) by the Secretary of State within 48 hours.
Failing to stop is an offence max sentence 6 months or a fine.
S57 Possession for Terrorist Purposes
It's an offence to possess an "article " ("substance or any other thing") in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that it's connected with the prearation of instigation of acts of terrorism. It's enough if it's found in the house you live in - unless you can prove that you didn't know it was there
S58 Collection of information
It's an offence to collect or have information likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism (see S1 definition above). This can include photos or e-mails, unless you can prove that you had a "reasonable excuse "to have it.
Taken from the UHC Collective website
Edited by libcom.org, last reviewed 2006
- 1See BBC News: Hero's return for Labour heckler - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4292342.stm