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The beginning of the millennium saw an increased political focus on the threat from international terrorism, heightened by the attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. Only one year before 9/11, new counter-terrorism legislation had been passed in the UK. Designed to reform and extend state powers found in previous counter-terrorism legislation, the Terrorism Act 2000 gave increased powers to the Home Secretary and the police. It moved the focus of counter-terrorism to all forms of domestic and international terrorism, rather than just Northern Ireland-related terrorism.

In 2003, the Government introduced its counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. Now in its fourth iteration, CONTEST aims to reduce the risk to the UK from terrorism with four objectives:

  • Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks
  • Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism
  • Protect: to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack
  • Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

Although statistics relating to terrorism and the use of counter-terrorism legislation have been collected by the Home Office since the 1970s, the publication (and consistent collection) of data was halted in 2001.

Home Office statistical bulletins on terrorism resumed in 2008, with most data series backdated to 11 September 2001.

This briefing examines the available statistics on terrorism in Great Britain including:

  • Deaths due to terrorism
  • The use of stop and search legislation
  • Terrorism arrests
  • Pre-charge detention periods
  • Prosecutions and convictions for terrorism
  • Terrorist prisoners
  • The use of TPIMS
  • The number of foreign fighters fighting in Syria

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