The Home Secretary must legislate now to close dangerous loopholes in the police bail regime for terror suspects, says the Labour Party.
The country’s lead counter-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, has branded police bail, which relies on unenforceable requests, a "toothless" regime. Terror suspects who break bail conditions cannot be prosecuted.
New figures released by AC Rowley to a committee of MPs show one in three terror suspects are released on bail – an average of two each week.
Labour's move follows the case of Siddhartha Dhar, who fled to Syria twenty four hours after his release on bail. Six weeks after his disappearance in 2014, Metropolitan Police wrote to Mr Dhar for failing to attend a passport surrender appointment a month earlier. He later allegedly appeared in a Daesh video message.
Labour will ask the Government to create a separate, tougher police bail regime for terror suspects, in line with recent calls by the Metropolitan Police. Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham will table amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, now in its Committee Stage, to make it a criminal offence, punishable with a prison sentence, for terror suspects to break Police bail conditions that include curfews and passport surrender.
Labour's call on police bail comes after the Government refused to disclose the scale of planned cuts to the UK Border Force. Whistle blowers told Labour that budget reductions worth £88 million are expected in the next two financial years.
Andy Burnham MP said:
“People will find it truly shocking that terror suspects on police bail can waltz out of the country without any real difficulty. This reform of Police bail is long overdue.
“The case of Siddharta Dhar exposes the dangerous loophole in the current system. I find it astounding that the Government hasn't acted to close it. Police officers should be able to insist on surrender of passports and travel documents as a condition of bail.
“Police bail conditions are not enforceable and Theresa May's new Bill doesn't change that. It is a major missed opportunity. If she doesn't accept Labour’s proposals, we will press them to a vote in the Commons.”