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Dominic Casciani, Home affairs correspondent

Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

Come here for reports and insight into home affairs as well as stories and content from around the web

How many times did court doors close?

One for spy thriller fans and conspiracy theorists: in the last year, the government has asked judges five times to let it give secret evidence to defend itself in otherwise open court cases.

The figure comes from the government's first annual report on the number of times it has sought to use controversial new powers to close court doors on grounds of national security.

These powers for civil courts were created in the 2013 Justice and Security Act after a slew of cases in which the government had faced claims of collusion in the ill-treatment of terrorism suspects in the wake of 9/11. The rules governing criminal cases are different - although prosecutors recently tried and failed to launch the first fully secret trial in modern times.

Ministers settled the largest case - involving former Guantanamo Bay inmates - for millions of pounds long before judges faced the question of disclosing sensitive national security material.

The Justice and Security Act made sure such a situation would never arise again.

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Babar Ahmad: The godfather of internet jihad?

Babar Ahmad, 2012

This week has seen the jailing of a man the Americans consider to be one of the most dangerous facilitators of terrorism in the West. But he is likely to be free in less than a year. He was a pioneer when it came to using the web as a tool of jihadist propaganda. So why do thousands of people think that Babar Ahmad is a victim of an injustice?

If you wanted to find the face - and voice - of Generation Jihad, it would be Babar Ahmad.

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Hacking probes: What happens next?

Andy Coulson leaving the Old Bailey
Convicted: Andy Coulson

What happens now? The conviction of Andy Coulson - and acquittal of Rebekah Brooks and others - is by no means the end of the road for the investigations into criminality - actual or alleged - inside newspapers.

Although The Sun has declared, in a smart, punning headline, that Rebekah Brooks' acquittal was a "great day for red tops", the full picture is rather more complex.

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News of the World trial: Evidence in documents

One of Mulcaire's notes relating to hacking Milly Dowler

The trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others included hundreds of documents explaining how hacking existed at the heart of the News of the World.

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, former news editors Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup and former reporters Dan Evans and Neville Thurlbeck had admitted being part of a conspiracy to intercept voicemails.

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No ordinary newspaper

News of the World

The News of the World wasn't an ordinary newspaper when Andy Coulson was its editor. It had another team you didn't find in your average tabloid newsroom.

Alongside the news reporters and feature writers, there was a department of criminality - a conspiracy at the heart of his newspaper to get the story at any cost.

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How do you define Islamist extremism?

Protesters holding a banner that says "Islam is superior and will never be surpassed"
The government has broadened its definition of extremism to include "opposition to British values"

The Birmingham Trojan Horse row has reignited a long and difficult debate over defining Islamist extremism.

Today, the government defines extremism as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs".

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Confidence in police levels-off as fewer see officers on street

Police on parade
Is confidence in the police driven by visibility alone?

The number of people who have seen a police officer on the beat at least once a week has fallen, official figures for England and Wales indicate.

This fall in police visibility during 2012-13 is the first recorded in official figures since 2009-10.

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Dominic added analysis to:

Sean Rigg custody death officer quits Metropolitan Police

The police watchdog's demand that Scotland Yard halts the resignation is highly unusual.

Sometimes police inform the IPCC if they think an officer who has faced investigation is considering departing - but in the case of PC Birks, neither the watchdog nor Sean Rigg's family saw this coming.

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Dominic added analysis to:

Police fail to seize terror inmate Munir Farooqi's home

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, courts can order convicted offenders to forfeit anything that has been "used for the purposes of terrorism".

In practical terms, this power would be typically used to seize computers, phones and vehicles. Jailed drug dealers and other offenders can be forced under different laws to give up homes, if it can be shown that the property was bought from criminal profits.

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About Dominic

Dominic began his career in local newspapers after studying languages at university.

Since joining the BBC in 1998 he has focused on stories relating to law, order, society and belonging - including immigration, ethnicity, the rule of law and terrorism.

He has spent most of his BBC career working online and was one of the pioneers of live online reporting for the BBC, filing stories from the field in the days when mobile phones looked like bricks and we had no idea when the data would reach the news editor.

He is married with two children. His unspellable surname is Italian.

When not undertaking family or work duties, you'll find him cycling up and down hills dreaming of Tour de France greatness.

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