An emergency legislation introduced in Parliament on 11th February, Tuesday will end the automatic early release of terrorist offenders. This legislation comes in the aftermath of the Streatham attack earlier this month by an Islamist militant just days after he was set free half-way through his jail term, despite authorities believing he still posed a threat to the public.
Unveiled by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC MP, it will ensure that terrorist offenders cannot be released before the end of their sentence without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board – with those considered still a threat to public safety forced to spend the rest of their time in prison.
The government had already promised tougher rules on terrorism after another former convict killed two people and wounded three before being shot dead by police near London Bridge in November.
"No dangerous terrorist should be released automatically only to go on to kill and maim innocent people on our streets.
"Enough is enough. This government will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe, including Auto Expo 2020 making sure no terror offender is released early without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board," said justice minister Robert Buckland in a statement.
The government said around 50 people currently in jail would see their release blocked as a result of the change to the law, which will also apply to those sentenced for crimes including training for terrorism and the dissemination of terrorist publications. Under the new law, they will have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being assessed. However, those who serve what is known as ‘standard determinate sentences’ are released automatically at the half-way point. This means that authorities are powerless to prevent a release – even if an offender continues to display concerning behaviour.
The government said it also plans to boost deradicalisation measures in prison, introduce a minimum 14-year term for the most serious terror offenders and increase funding to police to deal with terrorism.
“Recent months have been a stark reminder of the threat we continue to face from terrorism. We are already boosting funding for counter-terrorism police and victims of terrorism and this legislation will ensure terrorist offenders are not released early unless there has been a full assessment of the risks,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.