Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Legislation 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)


The intelligence cycle provides a key to anti-terrorism laws, such as the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. These Acts embody two main approaches. There is first the strategy of criminalization. The second purpose is not simply to sustain convictions but is to prevent, disrupt and counter and, in these ways, to 'control' the threat of terrorism. Intelligence feeds into both strategies, with least four modes of deployment: to make strategic assessments, including of the sources, nature and levels of threat, and the need for new resources or security measures; to feed into criminalisation operations in which individuals may ultimately be dealt with through the courts; to feed into control operations such as disruption and surveillance; to feed into control operations which deal with individuals by overt executive measures. These modes are not exclusive to terrorism, save for the final option which is the focus of this paper. There are two measures which can be considered as illustrative in this context - exclusion and detention without trial. Foremost in the analysis of them are the following questions: why was it necessary to rely upon intelligence; what was the quality of the intelligence; what were the processes in which the intelligence was used and did they put the intelligence to a suitable test?

Keywords: terrorism, intelligence, accountability, legal powers, special laws

JEL Classification: K14, K33, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Walker, Clive, Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Legislation in the United Kingdom. Crime, Law and Social Change, Vol. 44, pp. 387-422, 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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