The beginning of this millennium saw an increased political focus within the UK on the threat from international terrorism, heightened by the attack on the Twin Towers on 11th September 2001.
Only one year prior to 9/11, new counter-terrorism legislation had been passed in the UK. Designed to reform and extend state powers found in previous counter-terrorism legislation (such as the Prevention of Terrorism Acts), the Terrorism Act 2000 gave increased powers to the Home Secretary and the police to combat terrorism and moved the focus of counterterrorism away solely from Northern Ireland to all forms of domestic and international terrorism.
Since September 2011, 1,352 individuals have been charged with a terrorism-related offence, of those proceeded against, 1004 were convicted with the conviction rate rising year on year. It is not insignificant that an increasingly large number of prosecutions result from the analysis of digital materials, telephones, laptops, and the investigatory focus of police and the security services has, over recent years, switched from a reactive to a preventative position.
This highlights the importance of early legal assistance and advice being given to those investigated for offences, including those relating to the collection or dissemination of terrorist information and publications, particularly in instances whereby a statutory defence may be available.
Drystone Chambers benefit from having a number of senior and experienced practitioners within its ranks who have provided advice and undertaken the defence of individuals prosecuted under the Terrorism Act 2000 in recent years.
Members of Chambers have had direct experience within the counter-terrorism world. Our focus is on facilitating early direct contact between the barrister, solicitor and client in order that case preparation and strategy is developed at the earliest opportunity, and that issues relevant to disclosure management are identified early. At the other end of the process, the sentencing powers of the Courts are substantial (and, as announced by the Home Secretary in October 2021, only likely to increase); these often involve complexities unique to this area of law and clients will benefit from the assistance given by our experienced practitioners.