Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 13:30 UK

Terror register comes into force

Security at Westminster
Monitoring: Police will maintain register of offenders

People convicted of terrorism offences will join a register similar to that used to monitor sex offenders.

The scheme requiring anyone convicted since 2000 to maintain contact with the police came into force on Thursday.

Convicts must tell police about foreign travel plans and more basic details such as a change in home address.

Those subjected to the register will need to maintain contact with the police for between 10 and 30 years, depending on their crimes.

The measures, part of 2008's Counter Terrorism Act, were introduced amid concerns that police needed greater powers to monitor anyone released from a sentence for terrorism-related offences.

Jailed for 10 or more years: 30 years on register
Jailed for five to 10 years: 15 years on register
One to five years: 10 years on register

According to official figures, 11 people convicted of a terrorist offence were discharged from prison between July 2007 and March 2008, six of whom were either extradited or deported.

Overall, at least 30 men who were given relatively short prison sentences since 2000 have been eligible for parole.

Under the powers, anyone convicted of an offence under counter-terrorist legislation, or crimes shown to have been related to terrorist activity, will be required to tell the police where they live and any changes in their address. The law applies to people who have already been released on licence from prison.

Broad support

The scheme requires individuals to tell police about any plans to travel abroad for three days or more, including the ports they will pass through and where they will be initially staying.

The scheme is essentially identical to the sex offender register, including the same five-year jail term penalty for any breaches. Police can also use the information handed over by the suspect to seek a court order banning the individual from travelling overseas.

The scheme was broadly supported during its passage through Parliament - but some peers and MPs said it was flawed because it did not cover all foreign travel and, additionally, the individuals were not required to provide their passport number.

But security minister David Hanson said: "The UK faces a real and serious threat from terrorism. As of today, convicted terrorists who have served one year or more will have to register with the police in the same way as sex offenders and will have to report any foreign travel plans.

"This is one more tool for police to deal with the risk posed by those who've committed serious terrorist offences and those who breach these regulations could face another spell in jail."

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