New anti-terror plans could see terror suspects sent to Norfolk and Suffolk again
A scheme which has previously seen terror suspects sent to Norfolk and Suffolk could return under new powers announced by the prime minister.
The identity and location of most terror suspects given control orders was protected, but it did subsequently emerge that Norwich and Ipswich had been used for relocation.
It was revealed in a High Court case that a suspect, known as BG, who had twice travelled to Pakistan in 2008, was exiled to Norwich from Crawley.
He was moved to Norwich under a Home Office Control Order in 2009. In a High Court appeal, which the suspect lost, his barrister argued that the order forcing him away from his family and friends in Crawley was “unnecessary”.
While another Iraqi terror suspect, known as AH, was forced to live under a 14-hour-a-day curfew in a Norwich
flat, while wearing a tag, between August 2006 and June 2009.
While terror suspect Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, who disappeared after fleeing a mosque in a burka, lived near Ipswich for several weeks.
He allegedly breached a Home Office control order on several occasions while he was in the area during 2011.
The suspect was believed to have close links to al-Shabab, the Somali insurgent group that raided Nairobi’s
Westgate shopping mall in September.
Changes to bolster terrorism prevention and investigation are being weighed up after the UK terror threat level was raised to “severe” in response to Islamic State activity.
At least three terror suspects were sent to Norwich and Ipswich under control order powers brought in by the last Labour government, but the relocation powers were abolished in 2012 amid criticism that they were unfair.
Former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears, who was responsible for counter terrorism under Labour, called for the powers to be brought back, and said extremists, based in big cities like London, should again be relocated to places like Norwich and Ipswich to break up the groups.
Although she said that the two East Anglian settlements were not singled out and terror suspects had been sent to other parts of the country, she said that “just a handful” had been relocated.
In a statement in the House of Commons yesterday Mr Cameron said it was clear “targeted and discretionary” powers were needed.
He said: “We will introduce new powers to add to our existing terrorism prevention and investigation measures including stronger locational constraints on suspects under terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) either through enhanced use of exclusions zones or through relocation powers.”
“We are clear in principle that what we need is a targeted discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK and we’ll work proposals on this basis with our agencies in line with our international obligations and discuss the details on a cross-party basis.”
Police will also be given temporary powers to seize passports at UK borders of Britons they suspect are travelling abroad to fight with terror groups.
The Prime Minister also said the Government would “work up plans” for discretionary powers to exclude British nationals from the UK, telling MPs it was “abhorrent” that British citizens who pledge allegiance elsewhere were able to return to the UK and pose a threat to national security.
Norwich MP Simon Wright said there would not be a return to Labour’s authoritarian control orders, which “risked creating community tensions as families were torn apart through forced relocation to other parts of the UK”.
“However, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has highlighted the case for new powers to disrupt networks. It is right therefore to consider whether there are circumstances where excluding particular people with Tpims from specific areas could be a proportionate means of achieving this,” he said.
Labour candidate for Norwich North Jessica Asato said: “They key thing about control orders is that it allowed terrorists to be relocated. The reason it is important is because the suspect we had under surveillance tended to be people who organised and facilitate terrorist activities. Once you take them from their network, it tends to ameliorate the wider risks to society.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said control orders had not been acceptable in their previous form.
“It is a very tricky area of law, and one that people are particularly concerned about, not only those who are concerned about liberties, which are important in this country, but also those host communities.”