JUSTICE has submitted a briefing on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19

JUSTICE has submitted a briefing on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19 ahead of the House of Lords Second Reading on Tuesday 9 October.

The briefing details our concerns regarding the new port and border controls (Clause 21, Schedule 3); expanded retention of biometric data (Clause 18, Schedule 2); and the power to enter and search the homes of registered terrorist offenders (Clause 13) contained in the Bill, taking into account the debate and tabled amendments at House of Commons Committee and Report stages.

JUSTICE acknowledges the severity of the terrorist threat facing the UK. We are mindful of the context from which the Bill arises: 36 deaths from five terrorist attacks last year and this year’s Novichok nerve agent attacks in Salisbury – likely carried out under directions from the Russian state. We recognise too, as the Minister points out in his response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ report on the Bill, that the Government has a “duty…to protect its citizens and their right to life”.[1] Correspondingly, JUSTICE appreciates the need for robust counter-terrorism provisions on the statute book.

However, JUSTICE nonetheless would agree with the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its argument that “this Bill strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty”.[2] In particular, JUSTICE is not convinced that the case has been made for suspicion-less border checks in general, still less the introduction of a parallel system of controls that will co-exist with the current Terrorism Act 2000 (“TACT”) Schedule 7 regime.

In the context of evolving threats from state- and non-state actors, it is more important than ever that the UK takes a proportionate response and remains a leader in safeguarding procedural rights, including those afforded to individuals stopped and detained at the border. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill provides an opportunity for government to demonstrate its commitment to the rights of suspects as well as its dedication to keeping citizens safe. Our suggested amendments below go some way towards striking the right balance.

[1] Joint Committee on Human Rights, Legislative Scrutiny Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill:

Government Response to the Committee’s Ninth Report of Session (2017–19, HC 1578), 1.

[2] Joint Committee on Human Rights, Legislative Scrutiny: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (2017-19 HL 167, HC 1208) 5.


Read the Second Reading Briefing on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill here