Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000

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Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Joined: 13 Mar 2016, 22:50

06 Apr 2016, 06:59 #1

I have been carrying out research into Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (collect or possess "information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism") and I have submitted several FOI requests in order to determine if there is a list of proscribed publications or a criteria to determine whether a particular publication falls within the ambit of Section 58.

In April 2014 I submitted a FOI request to the Home Office:

Does the Home Office maintain a list of proscribed publications where any persons found in possession of them will be arrested under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000?

If such a list is maintained: Who is responsible for adding a particular publication to the list? What criteria is used to determine if a publication should be added to the list? Can I please have a copy of the entire list with the dates that each publication was added to it.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ ... _section_5

Their reply was:
The Home Office does not maintain a list of proscribed publications where any persons  found in possession of them will be arrested under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The legislation does not require a list of this kind to be maintained. An offence is committed where an individual collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. Whether a specific document or record is considered to contain information in this category is assessed on a case by case basis.
This was followed by FOI requests during May to July 2014 to several police forces:

Does your force maintain a list of proscribed publications where any persons found in possession of them will automatically be arrested under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000?

If such a list is maintained: Who is responsible for adding a particular publication to the list? What criteria is used to determine if a publication should be added to the list? Can I please have a copy of the entire list with the dates that each publication was added to it.

In the absence of such a list: What criteria are used to decide whether or not to arrest a person in possession of a particular publication apart from the opinion and gut feeling of a police officer at the time?

Reply from West Midlands Police:
1. There are no documents forbidden by law, therefore no information is held by West Midlands Police.

2. Not applicable (see 1).

3. Relevant legislation is contained within Sections 57 and 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ ... ection_5_6

I then asked them the question:

Please confirm whether it is legal or illegal to possess copies of the Inspire magazine, Join the Caravan, and the Al Qaeda Training Manual? If it is legal then what do you consider a reasonable defence under Section 58(3) because people have been arrested and prosecuted for possessing these publications?

Their reply was:
Section 8(1) of the Act states that any reference to a ‘request for information’ is a reference to such a request which-

a) is in writing,

b) states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and

c) describes the information requested.

Although you have sent your email to the West Midlands Police Freedom of Information email address, it does not ask for recorded information held by West Midlands Police and is not a valid request under Section 8(1)©.

Therefore unless you can specify what recorded information you are seeking access to, we are unable to assist you further at this time.

While I am unable to assist with your two questions under the Freedom of Information Act, outside of the Act I can advise that:

1) Considering whether to charge an individual under S58 TACT is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service who take account of not only the document itself but all surrounding circumstances.

2) S58(3) states: It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for his action or possession.
Reply from the MPS:
The searches failed to locate any information relevant to your request, therefore, the information you have requested is not held by the MPS.

Please note that there is no such thing as a 'list of proscribed publications' as proscribed means 'forbid, especially by law', and there are no documents forbidden by law. However, Sections 57 and 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are about possession of articles for terrorism purposes.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ ... ction_5_14

I then asked them the question:

Please confirm whether it is legal or illegal to possess copies of the Inspire magazine, Join the Caravan, and the Al Qaeda Training Manual? If it is legal then what do you consider a reasonable defence under Section 58(3) because people have been arrested and prosecuted for possessing these publications?

Their reply was:
I have decided to refuse access to the information you have requested (first question) under the provisions of Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

REASON FOR DECISION

Section 8 of the Act provides:

(1) In this Act any reference to a "request for information" is a reference to such a request which-

a) is in writing,
b) states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence,
and
c) describes the information requested.
But the remainder is asking for an opinion and the Freedom of Information Act is about documentation held and not requests about opinions, so I cannot consider answering the following:

If it is legal then what do you consider a reasonable defence under Section 58(3) because people have been arrested and prosecuted for possessing these publications?
A further FOI request was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service in February 2015 with 17 questions, four of which are listed below along with the answers they provided.

What criteria are used by the CPS in order to determine whether a particular publication falls within the ambit of Section 58?
In accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors each case is considered upon its own factsand on its own merits. Prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. This is based upon the prosecutor’s objective assessment of the evidence, including the impact of any defence and any other information that the suspect has put forward or on which he or she might rely.
Are publications relating to explosive devices, weapons, etc. studied and examined by suitably qualified technical experts who are able to determine with a high degree of confidence whether plans to construct such devices will result in functioning working devices?
Some publications are examined by expert witnesses. This will be on a case by case basis.
Are publications relating to Islam, or those with the words ‘jihad’ in the title or the contents, examined by highly knowledgeable Muslims? If so, then please provide me with their names and their credentials.
As above, some publications are examined by expert witnesses.
Does the CPS maintain a list of publications which fall within the ambit of Section 58 either for their own use or for the submission to third parties? If so, then please provide me with a copy of the entire list with the dates that each publication was added to it.
No. In accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, each case is considered upon its own facts and on its own merits.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ ... rorism_act

On the Counter-Terrorism Division page of the CPS website it is stated:
Possessing information for terrorist purposes or collecting information of a kind to provide practical assistance to a person committing an act of terrorism. This includes having manuals about making explosives. The information can be in any form, written, photographic or electronic (Sections 57 and 58, Terrorism Act 2000).
http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/ctd.html

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not explicitly or specifically make a reference to explosives. The above reference to explosives appears to have been added at a later date by the CPS without approval by Parliament.

It was reported in the Londonderry Sentinel on 23rd January 2014 that:
More people have been successfully prosecuted for collecting information or pictures useful to terrorists than for any other offence under the Terrorism Act 2000 since its enactment in the United Kingdom.

There were more convictions for this offence than for membership, fundraising, non-disclosure of information relating to terrorist investigations, obstruction, weapons training, possession of articles for terrorist use, incitement of terrorist acts overseas and failure to comply with duties at ports or borders under Schedule 7.

Over the past decade the “collection of information” accounted for more convictions than every other offence under current terrorism legislation apart from the offence of “preparation for terrorist acts,” which accounted for 53 convictions under the Terrorism Act 2006.

The Sentinel asked if it had a policy regarding seditious, extremist literature and whether it maintained lists of magazines, books or websites that are of specific interest.

The Home Office replied that it didn’t have such a policy, but added: “The police and the Counter Terrorism Internet Referrals Unit have the power to take action against material that breaches legal thresholds.”
http://www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk/ne ... -1-5829986
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