Terrorists will be sentenced to at least 14 years

Boris Johnson promised action after last year’s attack at Fishmongers’ Hall next to London Bridge

Terrorists face at least 14 years in prison for serious offences and up to 25 years of monitoring when they are released, in changes to sentencing after the London Bridge and Streatham attacks.

Those only suspected of involvement in terrorism could have indefinite restrictions on their movements, a proposal likely to start a battle with civil liberties campaigners.

Judges would be able to give tougher sentences to people convicted of non-terrorist offences considered to be linked to terrorism, such as fraud or firearms offences. Adult terrorists would be made to take lie-detector tests as part of licence conditions on release from prison, and automatic early release for serious offenders given extended fixed-term sentences will end.

Boris Johnson promised action last year after Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist, stabbed two people to death at a rehabilitation conference at Fishmongers’ Hall next to London Bridge less than a year after being released.

Khan, 28, had been released automatically after serving half of a 16-year term for plotting in 2012 to bomb the London Stock Exchange. He had completed deradicalisation courses in prison and was on probation at the time of the attack. He was shot dead by police.

In February Sudesh Amman, 20, who had been freed from jail on licence days earlier after a conviction for spreading terrorist material, attacked passers-by with a knife in Streatham, south London. He too was shot dead by police.

Robert Buckland, QC, the lord chancellor, said: Terrorists and their hateful ideologies have no place on our streets.

From introducing a 14-year minimum for the most dangerous offenders, to putting in place stricter monitoring measures, this government is pursuing every option available to tackle this threat and keep communities safe.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, said: The shocking attacks at Fishmongers Hall and Streatham revealed serious flaws in the way terrorist offenders are dealt with. We promised to act and today we are delivering on that promise.

David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, added: The horrific terrorist attacks on British soil in recent years demonstrate the need to update terrorism sentencing legislation. Labour will look in detail at the changes proposed in this bill. We will work constructively with the government on measures that reduce the chances of those who commit terrorist offences from re-offending. Those who seek to terrorise our communities with savage acts of violence must be stopped.

The Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Bill introduces further measures to the already complex sentencing framework for terrorist offences. Serious offenders will no longer be eligible for release when they have served two thirds of their sentence, and after their full term is finished they will be on licence for five to ten years.

People suspected of involvement in terrorist activity will face indefinite controls on their movements as ministers reform the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) .

TPIMs replaced the control orders introduced under Tony Blair but were rarely used because of human rights concerns. Under the new bill TPIMs can be renewed indefinitely and the standard of proof will be only reasonable grounds for suspecting. The measures include curfews, electronic tags and passport surrender.

Dean Haydon, senior national co-ordinator for counterterrorism policing, said: The new powers in this bill would only be used against a small number of the most dangerous terrorist offenders.

Rosalind Comyn, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said that the bill threatened all civil liberties. This legislation not only authorises people being locked up indefinitely, it also poses a threat to fundamental pillars of our justice system, she said. By reintroducing, in all but name, the widely condemned control orders a fundamental principle of justice — the presumption of innocence — hangs in the balance.

Control orders allow people to be placed on indefinite house arrest without trial and this can happen based on suspicion rather than charges, evidence and proof.

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