Clamping Down on Terrorism in the United Kingdom

Posted: 26 Jan 2008

See all articles by Clive Walker

Clive Walker

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS)

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There is a long history of laws responding to terrorism which have been utilised in the United Kingdom. This paper outlines the important strands of development, including in former colonies of the British Empire, in Ireland, and in mainland Britain itself. It offers an outline of the contemporary legislation - the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the Terrorism Act 2006. These comprise a formidably detailed and complex code of measures, principally concentrating upon special police powers, offences and criminal processes, the proscription of organisations and the restriction of financial flows to terrorists. The paper then considers thematically some of the main controversies surrounding the laws. The discussion is organised around the following binaries: a rational code not panic legislation; a criminal justice model not a war model; the language of rights not the language of balance; international cooperation not unilateralism; appropriate structures not empty acronyms. The conclusions warn against undue optimism about the impact of the special laws and undue reliance upon the laws to an extent which damages the very values which the laws seek to protect.

Keywords: terrorism, United Kingdom legislation, special laws

JEL Classification: K14, K33, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Walker, Clive, Clamping Down on Terrorism in the United Kingdom. Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 4, pp.1137-1151, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Clive Walker (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom
44 (0) 113 3435022 (Phone)
44 (0) 113 3435056 (Fax)


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