The way states understand and handle terrorist threats has drastically changed with the 2001 attacks
against New York and Washington. In the United Kingdom (UK), although the government had already
strengthened its counterterrorism capacity before those attacks, including through legislation such as
the Terrorism Act 2000, its focus on countering all forms of domestic and international terrorism
substantially increased in 2001. To gain insight into the United Kingdom’s approach towards terrorism
and violent extremism, this briefing paper seeks to present the evolution of the country’s objectives,
legal framework, strategies and practices regarding those phenomena.
For this purpose, this paper starts with a short review of the historical context and the main challenges faced by the UK (Section 1), followed by a presentation of some of the most important legal provisions and national strategies introduced by the government in order to tackle terrorist threats targeting its population and interests (Section 2). Lastly, it discusses the process of implementation of these laws and policies and their practical application. To that aim, some of the country’s key terrorism-related cases and prosecutions are analyzed and the evolution of the non-criminal tools and options used by the authorities to counter different terrorist threats is assessed.