Emergency legislation ending early release for terrorists introduced in wake of Streatham attack

Posted On: 
3rd February 2020

Emergency legislation ending automatic release for anyone convicted of terror-related offences will be introduced by ministers within days.

Forensic officers carry out their investigations into the Streatham attack.
Credit: 
PA Images

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the move was necessary to ensure that potentially-dangerous individuals who could still pose a threat to the public stay behind bars.

Controversially, the new law - which the Government hopes to be passed within two weeks - will apply to those currently behind bars, some of whom are due to walk free from jail within days.

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The move was announced a day after Sudesh Amman was shot and killed by anti-terror police shot on Sunday after stabbing three people while wearing a hoax suicide vest in Streatham, south London.

He had been released from prison just days earlier, having served half of a 40-month sentence for the possession of terrorist materials.

In a statement to MPs, Mr Buckland said: "We cannot have the situation, as we saw tragically in yesterday’s case, where an offender – a known risk to innocent members of the public – is released early by automatic process of law without any oversight by the Parole Board.

"We will be doing everything we can to protect the public, that is our primary duty.

"We will, therefore, introduce emergency legislation to ensure an end to terrorist offenders getting released automatically having served half of their sentence with no check or review."

Under the new legislation, prisoners convicted of any terrorist-related offence will not be liable for parole until they have served two-thirds of their sentence, rather than half.

They would then be assessed by a new arm of the Parole Board, which would have the power to keep them in prison indefinitely if they are judges to still pose a threat to the public.

Earlier, Boris Johnson had said he had "come to the end of my patience" with the automatic early release system.

He said: "This is a liberal country. It’s a tolerant country. But I think the idea of automatic early release for people who obviously continue to pose a threat to the public has come to the end of its useful life."

But Clare Collier, advocacy director of Liberty, said: "The Government’s response to recent terror attacks is a cause of increasing concern for our civil liberties.

"From last month’s knee-jerk lie detector proposal, to today’s threat to break the law by changing people’s sentences retrospectively, continuing to introduce measures without review or evidence is dangerous and will create more problems than it solves.

"It’s clear the UK’s counter-terror system is in chaos and desperately needs proper scrutiny and review."