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Data 'used to find Paris suspects'

The Home Secretary has told MPs it is "highly probable" that communications data was used in Paris to locate the suspects and establish links between the two terrorist attacks.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May said the police and security services need powers provided in the blocked Communications Data Bill - dubbed by critics as the Snoopers Charter - to protect the public and save lives.

Mrs May insisted the legislation was not a bid to allow t he Government to "snoop" on emails but to provide the police and the security services with the means to find out the "who, where, when and how" of a communication but not its content.

She said: " Every day that passes without the proposals in the Communications Data Bill, the capabilities of the people who keep us safe diminishes. And as those capabilities diminish, more people find themselves in danger and, yes, crimes will go unpunished and innocent lives put at risk.

"This is not - as I have heard it said - 'letting the Government snoop on your emails'. It is allowing the police and the security services, under a tightly regulated and controlled regime, to find out the 'who, where, when and how' of a communication but not its content, so they can prove and disprove alibis, identify associations between suspects, and tie suspects and victims to specific locations.

"It is too soon to say for certain, but it is highly probable that communications data was used in the Paris attacks to locate the suspects and establish the links between the two attacks.

"Quite simply ... if we want the police and the security services to protect the public and save lives, they need this capability."

The Home Secretary's comments are another clear signal that a Conservative-majority government would revive the communications data Bill if it were to come to power at the next general election.

The Bill was dropped in the face of Liberal Democrat opposition and has been criticised by human rights and civil liberties campaigners for being too intrusive.

Mrs May also told the House that future exercises conducted by police and other agencies to test the response to a terrorist attack will reflect "specific elements" of the Paris attacks.

She also added the police can call on "appropriate military assistance" when required across the country.

Turning to the availability of firearms, the Home Secretary said: "The types of firearms used in the attacks in Paris are not unknown in the UK, but they are extremely uncommon."

Mrs May called on member states of the European Union to work together to crack down on "vast" numbers of weapons in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and disrupt the supply of weapons from other parts of the world, such as North Africa.

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