Two news stories at the end of last week are salutory reminders as to why Ministers will be increasingly jumpy about Olympics Security next year as the Opening Ceremony approaches.
On Thursday Alan Travis in The Guardian reported under the headline “The Rise in the Number of Freed Terrorists Raises Security Fears” that:
“Thirty-six recently released terrorists are being “managed in the community” with a further 34 expected to leave prison over the next four years, according to Home Office figures.
A record 123 prisoners are now serving sentences for terrorism-related offences in jails in Britain. But nearly 10 years after 9/11 the number being freed is starting to rise and Whitehall security chiefs are increasingly concerned about the lack of preparations to deal with them.”
Then a few hours later The Evening Standard ran two related stories – the first under the headline “Terror Suspect ‘Plans Mumbai Atrocity Here'” and the second under the headline “Olympics Terror Alert”. The main point of these was:
“We already knew that a terror suspect known as CD – banned from London and believed to have been plotting a Mumbai-style atrocity in Britain – could return to the capital due to the Government watering down its anti-terror laws.
Now, The Standard has revealed that there could be several more suspected terrorists, including some understood to be from East London, who could be allowed back before the Olympics next year – if the Government does not amend its plans to replace control orders with terrorism prevention and investigation measures.
Currently, these reforms would remove the power to relocate terror suspects. This condition has been used in nine out of 12 current cases.
The Home Office is refusing to say how many could return to London.
But the Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne has suggested it could be several, possibly at least five. Other sources also believe it could be five or six.”
Nobody has ever suggested that Control Orders were ideal, but their replacement by TPIMs (Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measures) is clearly causing nervousness. After all the whole point of Control Orders was to prevent the subjects committing terrorist acts, while TPIMs are supposed to give them enough freedom so that they can be arrested for attempting to commit a terrorist act. A risk worth running? No wonder Home Office Ministers will be getting jumpy ….