Only three suspected extremists are subject to anti-terrorism curfews in Britain, despite more than 400 having returned from fighting jihad in Syria.
The increasingly large number of young men returning from Syria has swelled the total number of people on MI5’s extremist watch list to 3,000. This growing number is one of the main reasons behind the government’s decision to recruit up to 1,900 new spies, thus increasing the number of people working on Britain’s security services by 15 per cent.
Whenever someone returns from Syria, authorities try to question them under anti-terror powers. Some are immediately arrested, with a number having received prison sentences. Others are judged to not pose an “immediate threat”, especially those who claim to be traumatised by what they witnessed in Syria.
Some of those who are seen particularly active in extremist circles are kept under covert electronic surveillance, while others who are disillusion with terror can be recruited as informants.
However, security services appear to have made barely any use of the government’s much-feted Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims), which force suspects to wear tags, report to police and observe a curfew. The Times says that only three are currently in force, with two suspects being moved from their home cities to prevent contact with other extremists.
Meanwhile, the Royal Prerogative was used 30 times during 2013 and 2014 to deny someone a passport on security grounds.
Home Secretary Theresa May told parliament that Britain is reviewing its response to a gun attack in the wake of the Paris shootings.
“The sorts of weaponry used in the attacks in Paris in January, and those that appear to have been used last Friday, are not readily available in the UK. We must therefore focus on tackling firearms entering and moving throughout the EU, and ensuring that we have the right capabilities at the UK border to detect firearms being smuggled in,” she said.