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Counter-terrorism (Prosecutions)

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Crown Prosecution Service, police and security services work closely together to build a strong evidential case to enable those suspected of involvement in terrorism to be charged wherever possible with appropriate criminal offences. A post-case review is held after every prosecution and, where appropriate, lessons learned and good practice are used to improve future prospects of successful prosecution and conviction.

I thank the Attorney-General for that answer. According to Home Office data, convictions under terrorism legislation have fallen by 100% since 2006 while convictions for false accounting have fallen by 82% since 2004. Is it not time that we better armed our prosecutors with tools such as intercept evidence and greater use of plea bargaining so that we can take a more robust approach to disrupting and deterring joint criminal enterprises, whether they are terrorism or fraud in the banking sector?

I have had the opportunity to discuss this with the CPS and it is not thought that the processes we have require widespread reform. The CPS and the Security Service already work closely together from the earliest stages of an investigation, exploring options to strengthen the evidence and follow lines of investigation that lead to sufficient evidence on which to charge. Early formation of the prosecution team and collaborative working with international partners are regarded as essential in securing convictions. I have not seen the statistics to which my hon. Friend referred, but mercifully the number of prosecutions for terrorism-related offences is small and I would be just a little wary of trying to extrapolate a trend in view of the numbers of cases involved. For example, I know that in the early part of this year there were a number of notably successful prosecutions in that field.

I am slightly concerned about the whole question of terrorism at the moment, as points are being raised by residents of parts of London about missile batteries on the roof and so on. Has anything crossed the Attorney-General’s desk about the legal implications of that or about cases being taken to court?

I am not quite sure how best to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question. The Crown Prosecution Service is a demand-driven organisation. As and when its services are called on, it will do the work to help the police with investigations. That is what it does day in, day out and what it will certainly continue to do over the course of the Olympics.