Terror arrests at ‘record high’ – Home Office

© Stefan Wermuth
Terror arrests in the UK reached their highest-ever level over the past year, after figures overtook the previous spike recorded in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.

Between March 2014 and 2015 there were 299 arrests for terror-related offenses, marking a 31 percent rise on the previous year for the same type of arrest. The number of arrests is also the highest since records began in 2001. 

The figures also show a record number of women arrested for terror offenses, as well as a rise in young people aged 18 to 20.
Thirty-five women and 43 people aged 18 to 20 were arrested, almost double the number in the previous year.

According to the Home Office, of the 299 arrests, 118 were charged with a terror-related offense.

The Home Office figures further reveal a rise in the number of suspects held for over a week. Under usual rules, terror suspects are allowed to be held in police custody for up to 48 hours without charge, but police can apply extended custody if they believe suspects need further investigation.

Of the 21 people remanded in custody for over a week, 15 were charged.

Home Office officials said the increase was largely due to a flurry of arrests between October and December 2014, when 106 people were arrested, accounting for roughly one-third of the total arrests.

The heightened terror alert is due to the Islamic State, which currently holds swathes of Iraq and Syria and has drawn hundreds of Britons into its ranks. The terror threat in the UK was raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’ in August 2014.

Senior researcher at counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam Foundation Charlie Winter told the Guardian the rise in arrests was to be expected.

“These figures and the significant rises are to be expected given the fact that Islamic State is presenting an unprecedented situation. We’ve a threat that’s greater than it has been but also more closely scrutinized than it has been.

“The security services are seeking to keep on top of the threat that individuals could present to the UK. These figures could be indicative that they’re being more cautious than they would have been.

“Islamic State does call for attacks that are not high level operations but can happen at a grassroots level. Rather than stopping a plot that is on the cusp of being carried out, arrests are being made earlier in the process.”