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Terrorism Act

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the observations in relation to staffing levels at ports in Lord Carlile of Berriew's 'Report on the Operation in 2001 of the Terrorism Act 2000'; and if he will make a statement. [110717]

In his report on the operation of the Terrorism Act (laid before Parliament on 26 November 2002), Lord Carlile recommended that consideration should be given to the creation of a single ports and borders police force.The Government have made it clear that we do not rule out in the longer term any change that could be shown to improve the security of the UK, but that our immediate priority must be to exploit to the full all the opportunities for closer working between Special Branches and with our border agencies. Recent steps include measures to strengthen Special Branches, and to develop closer co-operation between them and improve co-ordination through the appointment of a National Coordinator of Ports Policing. Wholesale reorganisation of our border controls could adversely impact our defences at a time of enduring threat.There are currently around 1,200 Special Branch officers at ports in the UK. Staffing levels at ports are a matter for the Chief Constable of each force. The level of Special Branch officers at ports in England and Wales is supported by the Home Office through Dedicated Security Post funding.In addition to the Special Branch border control function, separate uniform policing arrangements are made on a territorial basis as the circumstances of each port dictate. The hon. Member will be aware of Sir John Wheeler's report on airport security which recommended a review of the arrangements by which airports are 'designated' for uniform policing purposes. `Designated' airports have a full time uniform police presence paid for by the airport operator. That review is under way.Responsibility for security at sea ports rests with the owners of the port. There are, however, eight ports in the UK which have dedicated non Home Office port police.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are detained without trial under the Terrorism Act 2000; and how many of them are under 18. [112114]

[holding answer 8 May 2003]: No one is detained without trial under the Terrorism Act 2000, though individuals may be held for investigation purposes following arrest for strictly limited periods.Under the immigration powers in Part 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, 15 foreign Nationals have so far been detained. Of the total detained, two have voluntary left the United Kingdom. The other 13 remain in detention.None of these people is under 18 years of age.