Number of stops under terror powers at ports, airports and rail stations falls

Updated: 

The number of people stopped at ports, airports and international rail stations under counter-terrorism powers fell by almost a third last year, new figures show.

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows officers to question individuals entering or leaving the country, can be used to determine whether the person in question appears to be concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism.

Figures indicate there has been a sharp decline in deployment of the powers in recent years. 

Home Office data released on Thursday show that in the year to the end of December, a total of 19,355 people were examined under Schedule 7 in Britain.

This was a 30% drop compared with 2015, when 27,530 stops were made, while the number has fallen from more than 85,000 in 2009/10. 

Detentions following examinations decreased by 16%, from 1,828 in the year ending December 31, 2015 to 1,539 in the latest year.

Reasons cited for the decline in stops include improved capturing of passenger data and better use of targeting techniques.

The figures also showed that British police made a total of 260 arrests for terrorist-related offences last year. This was down by 8% on 2015, but remains high compared with other years. 

There was an increase in the proportion of people arrested who are of white ethnicity, from 25% in the year ending December 2015 to 35% in the latest year.

Earlier this week it was revealed that UK security services have foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, while counter-terror units are running more than 500 investigations at any time.

The official threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe - meaning an attack is "highly likely" - for more than two years.