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Terrorist Attacks

Volume 614: debated on Monday 5 September 2016

4. What steps she is taking to ensure that the police and security services have the necessary powers to apprehend people planning terrorist attacks in the UK. (906082)

We continue to strengthen our counter-terrorism powers. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 provided the police with new powers and created a general duty on public bodies to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. To apprehend terrorist suspects, the police and security agencies need to collect intelligence to support arrests and develop evidence to secure prosecutions.

A major terror threat to the United Kingdom comes from people who are trafficked into this country. It is vital that we maintain the strongest possible intelligence-sharing relationships and agreements with other nations. What steps will the Home Secretary be taking to ensure that these agreements are prioritised and protected following the vote to leave the European Union?

I thank my hon. Friend for that important question, and I am aware of his expertise as a former police officer. We are leaving the European Union but I can reassure him that our co-operation on security with our European and global allies will be undiminished. We are about to begin negotiations and it would be wrong to set out unilateral positions in advance, but I share his view on this important matter.

May I warmly welcome the Home Secretary to her post? I hope that she has a long and successful term as Home Secretary. As she knows, earlier this year Siddhartha Dhar left the country, having not handed over his passport to local police officers, and went to fight for Daesh. The Home Secretary’s predecessor, who is now the Prime Minister, changed the Policing and Crime Bill to make the situation tougher for those who seek to go abroad. Will the Home Secretary follow the advice of Mark Rowley, the head of counter-terrorism, and expect suspects to hand over their passports as a precondition for bail?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for raising this very important matter. This was a very distressing case, where the suspect was able to go away while on bail to do such damage and join Daesh in Syria. The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. This is something that the former Home Secretary addressed, and we are looking at the best way to implement it. We may well follow the particular route that he has outlined, but rest assured that we take it very seriously.

I congratulate the Home Secretary on her new role. Does she agree that the Investigatory Powers Bill is essential if the intelligence services are to retain their existing capability to collect communications data, which is crucial in detecting terrorism and serious crime?

From her former role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland my right hon. Friend will know how important it is to be able to collect that information. She is absolutely right that the Investigatory Powers Bill is critical to making sure that our police, security services and intelligence services have the tools that they need to get the convictions that we hope they will achieve.

On behalf of my party, I welcome the Home Secretary and her entire team to their roles. In Northern Ireland, we know the true benefits of the police and security services working together. The chief suspect in the murder this year of my constituent Adrian Ismay has been bailed and, despite having breached bail twice, he remains at large. When the police and security services succeed, what conversations will the Home Secretary have with the Ministry of Justice to make sure that the judiciary plays its part as well?

That is a matter for the judiciary in Northern Ireland, but rest assured that it is a matter that we take very seriously.

In welcoming the Home Secretary to her new role, may I ask her whether she has had a chance to see to what extent profiling of those who commit terrorist atrocities has been examined by her Department, by the police and by the security services? People such as the journalist Peter Hitchens have noted a correlation between drug abuse and the commission of atrocities that is rather greater than any link with a Muslim faith background, despite what one would normally expect. Therefore, if profiling is to be carried out successfully, will the appropriate effort be invested?

We have a behavioural unit in the Home Office that looks at types of behaviour that may lead to certain actions. Now that my right hon. Friend has raised that question with me, rest assured that I will look at it more seriously.

In Birmingham, we are only too well aware that terrorism has not arrived on our shores only recently. I want to welcome the Home Secretary to her place. Does she agree with me and most of Birmingham that the relatives of the victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings should be treated equally and in parity with the relatives of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and should be provided with access to legal representation so that they can participate effectively in the inquests into the murder of their loved ones?

I know about this case—the hon. Lady has of course raised it with me previously—and I know about the campaigning she has done on behalf of her constituents and of the city in general. I do not know whether she is aware of this, but I am seeing the representatives of the Birmingham families this evening, and I will follow up with more information after that.