Just one person in Britain is currently subject to a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure (T-Pim) order, despite the high level security alert in place country-wide, and despite over 2,000 suspects being known to the authorities.
T-Pims were introduced in 2012 to replace the more restrictive and highly controversial Control Orders, and are designed to impose a curfew or otherwise restrict the free movement of terror suspects.
The most restrictive order in the security service’s arsenal, they are designed to allow MI5 to protect the public without the need to reveal evidence in an open court, and can be imposed for up to two years.
But according to a Parliamentary note circulated to MPs before recess and seen by MailOnline, as of May this year just a single Brit was subject to a T-Pim order, despite there being over 2,000 terror suspects at large in the country.
That figure has fallen steadily since 2013, when nine were in place.
By contrast, the French authorities have placed nearly 400 people under house arrest since the Paris attacks in November 2015, although even this is an imperfect tool: one of the killers who beheaded a Catholic priest in Normandy earlier this week was subject to an electronic tag which prevented him from leaving the house in the afternoons and evenings. The deadly attack took place in the morning.
The UK’s terror threat level is currently at ‘severe’ – the second highest level – amid warnings that a jihadist atrocity is ‘highly likely’. Churches have been advised to tighten their security following the gruesome attack, and the government has offered all places of worship, including mosques and synagogues, resources to aid them in security measures.
But critics are calling for more T-Pim orders to be put in place, helping to ensure that potential terrorists are kept off the streets.
Speaking to MailOnline, Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terror legislation for ten years, said: “It is surprising and worrying that we are down to just one T-Pim given the situation appertaining all over Europe.
“We know that there is a severe risk of a terror attack. I hope that the Government is examining the possibility of increasing the use of T-Pims or toughening them up.
“It is absolutely essential that the authorities should have the powers they need. The events in Normandy, Nice and Germany must focus ministers’ minds to use all the tools at their disposal, including T-Pims.”
Commenting on the current terror threat to the UK, Chris Phillips, who formerly led the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said: “There are over 2,000 people in the UK with terrorist affiliations.
“We just can’t keep them all under surveillance. And those are just the ones we know about.
“Historically we’ve stopped the majority of attacks but that gives a false sense of security this is all happening on the continent – it’s naive to think there are not people out there [planning similar attacks].
“How much are we prepared to put up with this if they go and kill 20, 30 people?”