The Development of UK Counter-Terrorism Policy and Legislation

  • Imran Awan
  • Keith Spiller
  • Andrew Whiting
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Risk, Crime and Society book series (PSRCS)


The former prime minister of the UK, David Cameron, in 2010, spoke at a conference in Munich about security, radicalisation, and multiculturalism, sparking a controversial debate about how the UK monitors and deals with extremism. This chapter will examine counter-terrorism legislation that dates back to the response to 9/11. It will also explore the current UK Prevent Strategy 2011 and examine the role of the CTSA and new public sector duty (which will be discussed in further detail in a later chapter). In 2010, the UK government review of counter-terrorism legislation and policy included examining the broader counter-terrorism strategies, that is, CONTEST/CONTEST 2. The focus of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK from international terrorism, and the CONTEST has four key strands, which include Prevent. The others are Pursue, which aims to stop terrorist attacks; Protect, which endeavours to strengthen systems against terrorist attacks; and Prepare, which aims at preparing against a terrorist attack by mitigating its impact. For the purposes of this chapter, we will be examining the Prevent strand of CONTEST whose origins lie contextually in post-9/11 and 7/7 when Muslims became a ‘suspect’ community. This chapter, however, will now also argue that wider counter-terrorism policies in the UK have led to an erosion of trust. Furthermore, such strategies are driven by state-led policies, embedded within vague and ambiguous local initiatives that lack both clarity and detail, and in effect, people act as informants and provide intelligence on each other and identify would-be extremists and terrorists. This chapter will detail the emergence of counter-terrorism policies and provide a review of some case studies that have involved counter-terrorism legislation.


Counter-terrorism Prevent Extremism Security: Muslims 


  1. Amnesty International Report. 2007. “Human rights in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. Available online at:
  2. Awan, I. 2012. “The impact of policing British Muslims: a qualitative exploration”, Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 7(1): 22–35.Google Scholar
  3. Ball, K. 2009. “Exposure: Exploring the Subject of Surveillance”, Information, Communication & Society, 12(5): 639–657.Google Scholar
  4. Ball, K. 2010. “Workplace Surveillance: An Overview”, Labor History, 51(1): 87–106.Google Scholar
  5. Ball, K. and Webster, F. (eds). 2003. The Intensification of Surveillance: Crime, Warfare and Terrorism in the Information Age. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  6. BBC News. 2008. “Student Was Studying Terrorism.” BBC News. Available online at:
  7. Brandon, B. 2004. “Terrorism, human rights and the rule of law: 120 years of the UK’s legal response to terrorism”, Criminal Law Review, December: 981–997.Google Scholar
  8. Breen Smyth, M. 2007. “A Critical Research Agenda for the Study of Political Terror”, European Political Science, 6(3): 260–267.Google Scholar
  9. Choudhury, T. and Fenwick, H. 2011. The Impact of Counter-Terrorism Measures on Muslim Communities. Manchester: Durham University.Google Scholar
  10. Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills. 2007. “Promoting Good Campus Relations, Fostering Shared Values and Preventing Violent Extremism in Universities and Higher Education Colleges.” Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills. Available at:
  11. Feldman, M., Littler, M., Dack, J., and Copsey, N. 2013. “Anti-Muslim Hate Crime and the Far Right”, Teeside University. Available at:
  12. Ferrell, J., Hayward, K.J., and Young, J. 2008. Cultural Criminology: An Invitation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Fitzpatrick, J. 2003. “Speaking law to power: the war against terrorism and human rights”, European Journal of International Law, 14(2): 241–264.Google Scholar
  14. Gardham, D. 2011. “Universities Complacent over Islamic Radicals, Theresa May Warns”, Daily Telegraph. Available online at
  15. Gearty, C. 2005. “11 September 2001, counter-terrorism, and the Human Rights Act”, Journal of Law & Society, 32(1): 18–33.Google Scholar
  16. Githens-Mazer and Lambert, R. 2010. “Islamophobia and Anti Muslim Hate Crimes: a London case study”, European Muslim Research Centre. Available at:
  17. Glendinning, L. 2008. “‘Lyrical terrorist’ has conviction quashed’”, The Guardian. Available at:
  18. Hillyard, P. 1993. Suspect Community: People’s Experiences of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  19. Home Office. 2013. “Review of the Operation of Schedule 7: A Public Consultation”. Available online at:
  20. Home Office. 2014. “Home Secretary Theresa May on Counter-Terrorism.” Available at:
  21. HM Government. 2015. “Prevent Duty Guidance: For Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales.” Available at:
  22. HM Government. 2018. “Counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) 2018”. Available at:
  23. House of Lords/House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights. 2015. “Legislative Scrutiny: Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill – Fifth Report of Session 2014–2015”. Available at:
  24. Innes, M., Martin, C. Roberts, Helen, I., Lowe, T. and Lakhani, S. 2011. “Assessing the Effects of Prevent Policing: A Report to the Association of Chief Police Officers”. Available online at:
  25. Jones, S. 2011. “Student in Al-Qaeda Raid Paid £20,000 by Police”, The Guardian. Available online at
  26. Khan, K. 2009. “Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) & PREVENT, A response from the Muslim Community”, An-Nisa Society. Available at:
  27. Liberty. 2012. “Liberty’s Response to the Home Office’s Review of the Operation of Schedule 7”. Available at:
  28. Lyon, D., Haggerty, K. D., and Ball, K. 2012. “Introducing Surveillance Studies”. In Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies, London: Routledge: 1–12.Google Scholar
  29. Malik, S. 2013. “Malik v United Kingdom, Fourth Section Decision”, European Court of Human Rights. Available at:
  30. McCahill, M., and R. Finn. 2010. “The Social Impact of Surveillance in Three UK Schools: “Angels”, “Devils” and “Teen Mums””, Surveillance and Society, 7(3/4): 273–289.Google Scholar
  31. Nellis, M. 2006. “Surveillance, Rehabilitation, and Electronic Monitoring: Getting the Issues Clear”, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(1): 103–108.Google Scholar
  32. Pantazis, C. and Pemberton, S. 2009. “From the ‘Old’ to the ‘New’ Suspect Community. Examining the Impacts of Recent UK Counter-Terrorist legislation”, British Journal of Criminology, 49(5): 646–666.Google Scholar
  33. Ranstorp, M. 2009. “Mapping terrorism studies after 9/11, An academic field of old problems and new prospects.” In: Jackson, R. et al. (eds.) Critical Terrorism Studies, A new research agenda. Oxon: Routledge: 13–33.Google Scholar
  34. Ryan, L., Elenore, K., and Ludovica, B. 2009. “Muslim Youth in Barnet: Exploring Identity, Citizenship and Belonging locally and in the Wider Context”, London: Social Policy Research Centre. Available at:
  35. Sabir, R. 2011. “I Won Terror Compensation, but My Struggle for Justice Continues.” The Guardian. Available at:
  36. Slack, J. 2011. “40 UK Universities Are Now Breeding Grounds for Terror as Hard Line Groups Peddle Hate on Campus”, Mail Online. Available online at:
  37. Simcox, R., Stuart, H., and Ahmed, H. 2010. “Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections”, The Centre for Social Cohesion. Available online at:
  38. Universities UK. 2011. “Freedom of Speech on Campus: Rights and Responsibilities in UK Universities.” Available online at
  39. Yaqoob, S. 2008. “Government’s PVE agenda is failing to tackle extremism”, The Muslim News. Available at:

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Imran Awan
    • 1
  • Keith Spiller
    • 2
  • Andrew Whiting
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Applied CriminologyBirmingham City UniversityBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Birmingham City UniversityBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations