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The practical application of counter-terrorism legislation in England and Wales: a prosecutor's perspective

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This article gives a prosecutor's perspective on the practical application of UK terrorism legislation. It gives an overview of the working relationship between the Counter Terrorism Division's specialist prosecutors, police officers and the intelligence services, in order to outline some of the challenges in investigating and prosecuting terrorism cases, and to inform on prosecutorial decision-making. It summarizes the main additions and changes to the criminal terrorism legislation over the last decade and gives examples of how some of the key powers and offences have been approached and used by prosecutors. The article deliberately concentrates on the criminal aspects of terrorism legislation and the importance of using due process to prosecute alleged terrorists fairly and proportionately. It describes how prosecutors use a mixture of the ordinary criminal and specialist terrorism laws depending on what is deemed appropriate in any given case. It is not intended to be a critique of the legislation itself or an analysis of what may or may not need to be changed. That is a matter for Parliament; the prosecutor's role is to apply the law not to make it. The article concludes that the criminal justice system is the correct place for terrorism prosecutions to take place and that the UK can continue to retain due process and respect for human rights while seeking properly to protect national security.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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