Police Terrorism Act (Tact) Custody – Many Positive Features With Recommended Improvements Focusing On Governance

The first independent inspection of the treatment and conditions for detainees in specialist police Terrorism Act (TACT) custody suites found good care for those held.

Inspectors reported that the environment and conditions in which detainees were held in five suites in England and Wales were generally of a good standard. Detainees were treated respectfully.

The inspection, in January and February 2019, was conducted jointly by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. It focused on the experience of the detainee in relation to custody and did not cover criminal investigations or their outcomes. Among positive features, inspectors noted that:

  • Custody staff spoke to and treated detainees respectfully, and considered and maintained their dignity during their detention. Their interactions with detainees were professional and courteous throughout.
  • There was good attention to meeting detainees’ individual and diverse needs. Female detainees generally received good support and care, and custody staff were sensitive to detainees’ religious and cultural needs and took care to ensure these were met.
  • Physical conditions in TACT custody suites were very good. Most cells were slightly larger than standard custody cells and had additional facilities to reflect the much longer periods that TACT detainees can be held. There was a focus on diverting children from custody, where possible. Very few children were detained but those who had been received good care.

Overall, the report made clear there were good outcomes for detainees despite some weaknesses in governance and leadership. The inspection found some areas of concern in the provision of TACT custody – a collaboration between Counter Terrorism Policing nationally and the forces in England and Wales which host the five TACT custody suites.

These areas included:

  • There was no national framework or guidance within which forces could operate, resulting in inconsistent approaches to delivering TACT custody and different practices across the forces. The report recommended that Counter Terrorism Policing should provide a clear framework for delivering TACT custody, supported by national policies and guidance, within which all forces can operate.
  • There was a lack of governance and oversight by senior officers in each of the forces, and the lines of accountability for TACT custody were unclear. The report recommended that each force should strengthen its governance arrangements with senior officers taking clear accountability for the delivery of TACT custody in their force.
  • Not enough information was collected or monitored at national or force level to show how well custody services were performing and whether the required standards for detainees were met. It was recommended that each force should gather and monitor comprehensive and accurate information on TACT custody to assess how well the services are performing. Counter Terrorism Policing should develop a performance framework to assess performance at a national level.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector or Prisons, and Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said:

“Overall this was a good inspection with many positive features. Custody staff provided good care for detainees, meeting and, in some cases, exceeding required standards. The environments and conditions in which detainees were held were generally of a good standard. The main areas we identified for improvement related to governance, oversight and consistency of approaches and procedures. The network and individual forces were open to external scrutiny and, during the inspection, had already recognised and started to address some of our concerns. We were confident that the required improvements would be delivered.”

Read the Report


This report sets out the findings from an inspection of Terrorism Act (TACT) custody facilities in England and Wales in January and February 2019. This inspection, conducted by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), was the first one of custody facilities holding people detained for terrorism offences or terrorism-related offences. Individuals arrested for terrorism offences are detained at one of five TACT custody suites situated across the country. These detainees can be held in custody for up to 14 days, significantly longer than detainees held in mainstream custody.  Because of this, there are different arrangements under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) for the detention, treatment and questioning of detainees. We set out the legal background to TACT detention in the section in the report on Context. Responsibility for the safe and respectful delivery of custody in the TACT suites rests with the chief constable of the force in which the TACT custody suite is situated. Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) oversees the provision of TACT custody and has a national strategic role in directing, coordinating and supporting TACT custody.

This inspection assessed the effectiveness of custody services and outcomes for people detained on suspicion of terrorism offences or terrorism-related offences throughout the different stages of detention. It forms part of our wider work to inspect all police custody suites in England and Wales on a rolling programme. These inspections focus on the experience of the detainee in relation to custody and do not cover the criminal investigation or outcome of this. We examined the national framework for TACT detention suites provided through, and overseen, by CTP. There are five police forces that host a TACT custody suite, and the inspection also examined their approach to custody provision in relation to safe detention and the respectful treatment of detainees, with a particular focus on vulnerable people and children,

Woodhill lifer admits disseminating IS propaganda

A serving prisoner at HMP Woodhill has admitted disseminating grisly Islamic State propaganda from behind bars.

Abdul-Rehman Gul sent IS videos of shotgun executions in slow motion via a mobile phone in 2017.

While in a young offender institution he also shared an IS manual entitled How to Survive in the West.

At the time, the 22-year-old was serving life with a minimum term of four and a half years for three counts of wounding with intent.

Appearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday 19th March via video link from HMP Woodhill, Gul admitted five charges of disseminating terrorist publications.

Prosecutor Alistair Richardson said the defendant was currently eligible for parole and was due a hearing soon.

Judge Richard Marks QC adjourned sentencing until April 26.

‘Charismatic’ killer of Lee Rigby has converted prisoners to Islam, judge told

adebolajoadebolajoScreen Shot 2017-10-31 at 20.21.51A Muslim extremist jailed for life after being convicted of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby is looked up to by fellow prisoners, a High Court judge has been told.

Michael adebolajo was “charismatic” and intelligence suggested that he had helped convert other inmates to Islam, Mr Justice Langstaff heard.

Detail of the influence adebolajo wielded in jail has emerged after he took legal action against the Ministry of Justice.

adebolajo claims that he was injured by prison officers during an incident in a cell and wants compensation.

Mr Justice Langstaff oversaw a preliminary hearing in the case at the High Court in London on Tuesday.

He said any trial was some distance off and made an order barring prison officers involved from being identified in media reports.

Fusilier Rigby, 25, died after being attacked near Woolwich Barracks in south-east London in May 2013.

adebolajo, who is in his early 30s, and Michael Adebowale, who is in his mid-20s, were convicted of murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.

adebolajo was given a whole-life jail term.

Adebowale was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 45 years.

Jurors heard that they mowed down Fusilier Rigby in a car before hacking him to death.

Mr Justice Langstaff said adebolajo, who was not at Tuesday’s hearing, had complained about an incident in a cell while on remand in July 2013.

Lawyers representing the Ministry of Justice said prison officers likely to give evidence at any trial could be in danger if their names emerged in media reports.

They gave the judge detail of the influence adebolajo had in prison.

“He forms relationships easily,” said the judge.

“He is charismatic.

“There is intelligence suggesting that he has had some influence on the conversion to Islam of some individuals.”

The judge added: “There is a large group of people who look up to adebolajo.”

Mr Justice Langstaff said the incident at the centre of adebolajo’s claim had occurred while he was awaiting trial.

Five prison officers had been escorting adebolajo. Physical force had been used to restrain him.

He had been held by the head and an arm and had lost two front teeth.

The judge said the use of physical force by prison officers had to be justified.

Ministry of Justice lawyers told the judge that prison officers were “deeply unhappy” about being involved in legal proceedings.

Mr Justice Langstaff said adebolajo had not been given legal aid to pay for lawyers to represent him.

He said adebolajo might have to represent himself at any trial and suggested that it would be in the interests of justice if public funding could be given.

“If and when this case comes to trial it will be a great pity to justice, and in particular the presentation of the claimant’s case, if some means were not found to ensure he had professional help,” said the judge.

“If that could be done by public funds all the better.”

adebolajo had screamed ”Allahu akbar” as he and Adebowale were sentenced by a judge at the Old Bailey in February 2014 after being convicted of Fusilier Rigby’s murder.

The two British-born extremists, who were dressed in Islamic robes, erupted with rage as Mr Justice Sweeney told them that they had been radicalised and betrayed their religion.

Both were pinned to the ground and bundled out of court by prison officers.

Mr Justice Sweeney said: “You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalised and each became an extremist, espousing a cause and views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam and of the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country.”

He added: “You decided between you, and in order to advance your extremist cause, to murder a soldier in public in broad daylight and to do so in a way that would generate maximum media coverage.”

ECHR Rules Terrorism justifies closed courts

courtclosedEuropean Court of Human Rights

published: January 15, 2016

Sher and Others v United Kingdom (Application No 5201/11)

Before G. Raimondi, President and Judges P. Hirvelä, L, Bianku, N. Tsotsoria, P. Mahoney, F. Vehabović and Y. Grozev

Section Registrar: F. Elens-Passos

Judgment: October 20, 2015

The right of suspected terrorists to take proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of their detention did not preclude the use of closed court hearings, at which neither the detainee nor his lawyer was present, for the submission of confidential information supporting the authorities’ line of investigation.

The European Court of Human Rights (Judge Vehabović dissenting) so held, inter alia, in determining that there had been no violation of the right of the applicants, Sultan Sher, Mohammed Rizwan Sharif and Mohammed Umer Farooq, to take proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of their detention, as guaranteed by article 5.4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, at hearings for warrants of further detention on expiry of the initial 48 hours permitted under the Terrorism Act 2000 following their arrest as part of a counterterrorism operation. The applicants were detained for a total of 13 days before being released without charge.

THE COURT said that the threat of an imminent terrorist attack had justified restrictions on the applicants’ article 5.4 rights. Terrorism fell into a special category.

Article 5.4 could not preclude the use of a closed court hearing for the submission of confidential sources of information supporting the authorities’ line of investigation. It could not be applied in such a manner as to put disproportionate difficulties in the way of police authorities in taking effective measures to counter organised terrorism.

Moreover, the legal framework under Schedule 8 to the 2000 Act, governing proceedings for warrants of further detention, had set out clear and detailed procedural rules enabling the applicants to know the nature of the allegations against them and, with legal representation, to have the opportunity to refute those allegations and to participate effectively in proceedings concerning their continued detention.

Furthermore, the applicants and their legal advisers had been given reasons for the withholding of certain information. The information to be withheld had been limited to the further inquiries to be conducted and had been submitted to a judge who, in closed session, had been able to ensure that no material had been unnecessarily withheld from the applicants and to determine, in their interests, whether there had been reasonable grounds for believing that their further detention had been necessary.

Indeed, even in the absence of express provision in the relevant law, the judge had had the power to appoint a special advocate if he considered such appointment necessary to secure the fairness of the proceedings. Significantly, the applicants had not requested the appointment of a special advocate.

Prison assault on ex-soldier was ‘terrorist attack’

2paraThe Times has reported that a former paratrooper on remand in prison has been severely beaten by a gang in a “terrorist attack”, it was alleged yesterday.

Eight men assaulted Craig Jones in his cell at Hewell prison, West Midlands. One of the gang members is alleged to be a Muslim serving ten years for causing the death of a soldier by dangerous driving in 2014.

Jones, formerly of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, had only recently arrived at the jail and was targeted because of his military service, a source said. “I was told he had a fractured eye socket, they sliced up his face and beat him to within an inch of his life. It was a major incident,” the source added.

Jones was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated. He is expected to be returned to prison shortly.

A Prison Service spokesman confirmed that an incident had taken place and said that a police and prison investigation had been started.

“A prisoner at HMP Hewell was taken to hospital following an incident on Saturday, January 9,” the spokesman said. “The circumstances are being investigated by both the police and the prison, and we will take action against anyone found to have been involved.”

The Muslim inmate was jailed in October. He had already been banned from driving when he sped through a red light at almost 70mph and ploughed into the back of a car being driven by the soldier, killing him instantly.

He ignored the carnage at the scene and ran off, but four witnesses wrestled him to the ground. The victim had served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and received full military honours at his funeral.

Nick Hardwick, the outgoing chief inspector of prisons, expressed concern last month about the threat posed by Muslim gangs in jails, including fears that they may be radicalising vulnerable inmates.

He said prison officers should not be deterred from tracking gang-related activity if the members of the gangs were Muslims.

One prison governor said that the growing influence of Muslim gangs was a major issue for the jail system. The governor said that many prisoners were so fearful of Muslims that they formed alliances with them for protection.

Others, however, say that some inmates were attracted to joining Muslim gangs because they were seen as the latest powerful group in Britain’s jails.

Prison sources said that the attack on Jones was not being investigated as a racist incident, but was thought to be linked to a dispute over tobacco.

Hewell prison holds 1,266 remand and sentenced prisoners. A prison inspection report in 2014 found significant levels of violence, including some serious attacks. The previous year there was an attempted murder. The report said prisoner-on-prisoner assaults were high and that they were often linked to debt, which arose because of delays in new inmates receiving orders of tobacco from the jail’s shop.

Shaker Aamer ‘to take legal action against Government’ after Guantanamo release

aamerarrivalThe last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay is set to take legal action against the Government following his release, sources said.

Shaker Aamer arrived back in the UK yesterday after being held for 13 years without charge at the US military facility in Cuba.

It is understood the father of four, who is receiving treatment in hospital, has already been reunited with his wife Zin.

He is due to meet all of his children this weekend, including youngest son Faris, who was born on the same day Mr Aamer arrived at Guantanamo.

Mr Aamer is now expected to bring legal proceedings against the British Government over its alleged complicity in his mistreatment.

The source said: “Proceedings were initiated some years ago on his behalf that could not be followed until his return to the UK.

“They will now, undoubtedly, be progressed.”

Reports that Mr Aamer could be in line for a compensation payout in the region of £1 million were “speculation”, the source added.

Mr Aamer paid an emotional tribute to those who fought for his release after he returned to the UK, saying: “Without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now.”

The 46-year-old arrived on a private plane at Biggin Hill airport in south-east London yesterday afternoon.

In a statement, he said: “The reason I have been strong is because of the support of people so strongly devoted to the truth.

“If I was the fire to be lit to tell the truth, it was the people who protected the fire from the wind.

“I am overwhelmed by what people have done by their actions, their thoughts and their prayers and without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now.”

Mr Aamer is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, one of his lawyers said, as he marks his first full day of freedom back in Britain.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York School of Law involved in the case, said Mr Aamer is suffering from a number of medical conditions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He suffers from a number of conditions both physical and psychological, including post-traumatic stress disorder on the server end of the PTSD spectrum.”

Mr Kassem told Mr Aamer five weeks ago that he was about to be released but said it did not “register” initially.

Mr Aamer later broke out into a huge smile when he realised there was light at the end of the tunnel, the lawyer said.

Former hostage Terry Waite, who was held captive for 1,760 days after going to Beirut in 1987 to negotiate the release of several hostages being held there, urged Mr Aamer to withdraw from public view for a while.

He told Today: “He has suffered a grave injustice. Whatever the background, to keep someone for 13 years without charge is really beyond the pale.”

Mr Waite likened release to deep sea diving, warning “if you come up too quickly you get the bends”.

“If you take it one step at a time and be patient, things could work out in a very good and creative way,” he said.

Mr Waite said Mr Aamer “needs to be very careful” about making any public statements in the near future, warning he may say things he later regrets.

“The best thing is for him to withdraw for a while to get the treatment that’s necessary,” he said.

Last UK Guantanamo Prisoner to be Released

shakeraamerShaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, is to be released, a British Government spokesman said.

The US government has notified the UK authorities that it now intends to return Mr Aamer to Britain.

“The Government has regularly raised Mr Aamer’s case with the US authorities and we support President (Barack) Obama’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” the spokesman said.

“In terms of next steps, we understand that the US Government has notified Congress of this decision and once that notice period has been concluded, Mr Aamer will be returned to the UK.”


Mr Aamer, 46, a Saudi national, was originally detained in Afghanistan in 2001.

He was subsequently transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he has been held without charge.

His release is expected to take place once the 30 day notice period set by the US authorities has expired

, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, is to be released, a British Government spokesman said.

The US government has notified the UK authorities that it now intends to return Mr Aamer to Britain.

“The Government has regularly raised Mr Aamer’s case with the US authorities and we support President (Barack) Obama’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” the spokesman said.

“In terms of next steps, we understand that the US Government has notified Congress of this decision and once that notice period has been concluded, Mr Aamer will be returned to the UK.”


Mr Aamer, 46, a Saudi national, was originally detained in Afghanistan in 2001.

He was subsequently transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he has been held without charge.

His release is expected to take place once the 30 day notice period set by the US authorities has expired

Terror prisoners segregation was unlawful

Kamel Bourgass
Kamel Bourgass

Two high-profile terrorist prisoners, including one held in Cambridgeshire, who were segregated for extended periods have won challenges at the UK’s highest court.

Five Supreme Court justices in London allowed appeals by Ricin plot conspirator Kamel Bourgass, detained at HMP Whitemoor, and ”liquid bomber” Tanvir Hussain.

In March 2012 the pair failed to persuade appeal judges that their treatment was unlawful.

They were alleged to have intimidated and bullied other inmates over matters of faith, and authorities in their respective jails had considered it was necessary to separate them from other prisoners ”for good order and discipline”.

Both men denied accusations that they tried to influence and dictate the beliefs of other prisoners.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that their segregation was not lawful after initial periods of 72 hours.

The judges granted declarations in each case that the “appellant’s segregation beyond the initial period of 72 hours was not authorised, so was unlawful”.

The pair had also raised human rights issues – they claimed their rights had been violated – but that aspect of their case was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Bourgass, an Algerian, is serving 17 years for conspiracy to commit public nuisance by using poisons or explosives in relation to the 2002 Ricin terrorist plot.

He is also serving a life sentence for murdering Detective Constable Stephen Oake, 40, with a kitchen knife during his 2003 arrest at a flat in Manchester.

He injured four other officers during that attack and is serving sentences for attempted murder of two officers and wounding a third.

Hussain was one of three men convicted of a plot to launch suicide attacks on flights from Heathrow to America and Canada using liquid bombs made of hydrogen peroxide hidden in soft drink bottles. He is serving life with a minimum tariff of 32 years.

While detained at HMP Whitemoor, Bourgass was segregated from March 10 2010 until April 22 and again from April 23 until October or November of that year.

Hussain was segregated at HMP Frankland in County Durham from April 24 2010 until October 2010.

Mark Leech editor of the national prisons newspaper Converse said this was an important judgement with far reaching consequences.

Mr Leech said: “Put aside the understandable distaste that we all have for terrorist prisoners, this case is about fairness and an independent process.

“Of course its right that we should be able to segregate those who pose a threat to good order and discipline inside our prisons – but a part of that process must be that the prisoner concerned has the right to know why he is being segregated and have the opportunity to contest the case against him – that doesn’t happen and has now been ruled unlawful.

“I once spent the best part of two years in this kind of segregation, solitary confinement, which has devastating emotional and mental health effect on a person and certainly did so on me.

“There are segregation review boards which meet to consider whether the segregation should continue, but it is not independent, it doesn’t examine the original allegations and the prisoner has no opportunity to answer or contest the case against him – which cannot as a matter of basic human rights be right.”

Judge overrules Theresa May and allows terror prisoner to be freed

Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada

A man believed by police to pose a threat to the UK is to be released from prison after Theresa May lost a court case to keep him in jail until he can be deported.

The man, a foreign national, has spent years behind bars on terror-related offences and is still believed to pose a threat to the public.

But a judge has now overruled the Home Secretary’s argument that the man, known in court as N2, should be remanded in custody because he is a threat to national security.

The case has some echoes of the infamous Abu Qatada affair two years ago, when the Home Secretary spent years trying to deport him to Jordan after he completed his sentence in the UK.

N2 was convicted of Islamist terror-related offences several years ago and his long sentence has expired.

With his potential release pending, Ms May signed a deportation order on 15 July. Earlier this week Home Office lawyers asked a judge to remand him in custody until those proceedings are over.

Ms May argued he was not only a threat to the public but also a flight risk.

But at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission hearing, Mr Justice Irwin overruled the Home Secretary, ruling that N2 should be freed. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which first reported the judge’s decision, said he was due to be released.

Granting him bail, the judge ruled that he must wear a tag and comply with strict conditions, but he will be able to live near his family and be free to mingle in the community.

The bail conditions also restrict him from large transport hubs such as international railway stations  and airports, and they forbid him from possessing any computer equipment or mobile phone. He is only allowed a landline telephone.

However, the public has been barred from knowing who or where he is after the judge banned the media from identifying him, and from publishing any details about his original case.

At the Siac hearing, Tim Eicke QC, for the Home Office, argued N2 would be a high flight risk as well as a risk to national security were he to be granted bail. N2’s lawyer, Daniel Furner, said there was nothing in his recent history to suggest he would flee.

Mr Justice Irwin said the risk N2 would abscond was not enough to justify his continued detention. A hearing date for his appeal against the deportation order has not been set.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We pursue every possible avenue to remove foreign nationals who threaten our national security and deportation with assurances is just one weapon in our wider armoury.

“Twelve individuals have been removed via these arrangements to date, including Abu Qatada in July 2013, and we are actively pursuing deportation with assurances in this case.”

Teen Terrorist Jailed Over Grooming

Kazi Islam
Kazi Islam

A teenage terrorist has been sentenced to eight years for grooming a young man with learning difficulties to carry out a Lee Rigby copycat killing.

Kazi Islam, 19, tried to persuade 19-year-old Harry Thomas to buy the ingredients for a pipe bomb and to attack one or more soldiers with a kitchen knife or meat cleaver on his command. He encouraged the older youth to start calling himself Haroon instead of Harry and attempted to radicalise him with stories of innocent children murdered by military forces.

But Islam’s schemes were foiled when Mr Thomas failed to buy any of the right ingredients for a bomb and let slip to “a few friends” what they were up to.

The defendant, who will serve his sentence in a young offenders institute, denied wrongdoing, saying that he only talked to Mr Thomas about getting the components for a bomb as an “experiment” in radicalisation.

But following the trial at the Old Bailey, Islam, of Meanley Road, Newham, east London, was found guilty of engaging in the preparation of terrorist acts.

Sentencing, judge Richard Marks QC told him that his behaviour towards Mr Thomas, who suffered from Aspergers syndrome and ADHD, was an aggravating feature.

He said: “Even on your own account, that you knew he was an extremely vulnerable young man, your treatment of him was as callous as it was manipulative.”