Michael Gove today said convicted terrorists should be imprisoned indefinitely ‘if necessary’ as the government moved forward with proposals to toughen sentencing laws.
Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of a bitter court battle over plans to keep unreformed offenders in jail by scrapping automatic early release.
Ministers are planning to crash through emergency legislation within the next 10 days which would require terrorists to be assessed by the Parole Board before they can be freed.
The government launched the proposed crackdown after terrorist Sudesh Amman stabbed two people in London on Sunday before being shot dead by police.
The Prime Minister’s plans to keep the worst offenders in jail for longer and to apply the new criteria retrospectively have sparked a legal firestorm.
Mr Gove, a former justice secretary and now minister for the Cabinet Office, was asked on Sky News this morning if he believed terrorists should be detained indefinitely and he replied: ‘If necessary, yes.’
His comments came as ministers were accused of ignoring warnings from security officials who apparently said two years ago that they were worried about the number of terrorists eligible for automatic early release.
Michael Gove, pictured in Downing Street on January 23, said today that terrorists should only be let out of prison once they are proven to no longer be a ‘danger to the public’
Kevan Jones, a Labour MP, today claimed security officials had raised concerns about the automatic early release of terrorists two years ago
Kevan Jones, a Labour MP, said concerns had been raised by the security services with Parliament’s intelligence and security committee of which he was a member.
Mr Jones told the Evening Standard the government had known ‘for at least a year and a half’ that individuals who ‘posed a serious risk’ were due to be released.
He said ministers needed to now detail what they did at the time to respond to the concerns.
Defending the government’s plans, Mr Gove said it needed to be proven that ‘people are no longer a danger to the public’ before they are let out.
‘If you have people who are in the grip of an ideology, that ideology means they want to kill innocent people in order to advance a particular religious and political view, they are a danger to society,’ he said.
‘Until we know that they are comprehensively de-radicalised and that it is safe to have those people on our streets then public protection must come first.’
The government acted to start the process for scrapping automatic early release for terrorists after Sunday’s terror attack in Streatham, south London.
Amman had been automatically freed from prison, despite boasting of his plans for a terror attack and ambition to kill an MP, months after London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan killed two after also being released automatically.
At least 18 more terrorists are due to be freed from prison without a review within months under laws passed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments in 2003 and 2008. No10 refused to be drawn today on whether they would be allowed out in the interim.
Scroll down for the 18 terrorists who are set to be freed automatically in months
Armed police shot dead terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, after he grabbed a knife from a shop and a female nursery teacher and another man
Both automatically freed early: London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan, left, killed two in December after being automatically released from prison. Sudesh Amman, 20, was also released automatically before stabbing two people in Streatham on Sunday
As well as introducing a new requirement for all offenders to be assessed by the Parole Board before they are released, ministers also want to delay the point at which people are eligible to be let out early from halfway through a sentence to two-thirds of the way through.
The government’s proposals were criticised by the criminal lawyer who runs the popular Secret Barrister Twitter account.
He wrote: ‘A mature and responsible government enacts emergency retroactive legislation as a last resort, after sober reflection and with a heavy heart.
‘The gleeful relish of this announcement – LOOK HOW TOUGH WE ARE! – encapsulates the ghoulish populism of the Ministry of Justice.’
The Prime Minster’s emergency legislation would stop automatic release when it comes into force – but legal experts say it will ‘certainly’ be challenged by human rights lawyers acting for the terrorists.
They are set to try and overturn the measures in court arguing that it is unfair to change the terms of individuals’ sentences retrospectively.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said on ITV’s This Morning programme: ‘Those two individuals [Khan and Sudesh] did not go up in front of anybody… they did not go through a parole board process. They were not assessed, they were not checked over essentially. They were not assessed on their conduct in prison and if they were suitable to be released.
‘My own view, and the Prime Minister agrees as well, we cannot keep having terrorist offenders… we’ve got to stop that, we’ve got to stop them from having early release and this automatic release where they’re not checked and they’re not sitting in front of a parole board.’
Ms Patel defended the government’s failure to close a loophole that sees terrorists automatically released from prison after serving half of their sentences.
‘We’ve been working on this for six months, I’ve been Home Secretary for six months and it wasn’t until the incident with Usman Khan, which was Fishmongers Hall, that is when we announced that we would bring in new legislation through a Counter Terrorism Bill,’ she said.
The new law was announced last night by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland in the wake of the latest atrocity on London‘s streets.
Amman was shot dead by police around a minute after launching an attack on two bystanders in Streatham High Road, south London, on Sunday. A third person was injured by flying glass during the gunfire.
The 20-year-old, who was jailed for possessing and distributing terrorist documents in December 2018, was freed from prison under automatic early release provisions less than a fortnight ago.
Mr Buckland said yesterday that emergency legislation was needed to make sure terrorists are not released automatically from prison half way through their sentence.
A No 10 source said the law would be brought forward this week ahead of a package of measures expected later this year that could include a beefed-up role for the Parole Board. The legislation should complete its passage through Parliament before the Commons rises for half-term on February 13.
Crucially ministers want the amended law to apply to those already in prison for terror crimes, as well as those jailed in future.
But legal experts have predicted a wave of court challenges over the plan to apply the new rules to prisoners who have already been sentenced. Human rights lawyers are expected to argue that it is not fair to apply the changes retrospectively.
Former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Carlile told BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘I think it may have gone too far.
‘The decision to lengthen the sentences of people who have already been sentenced, and therefore expected to be serving half the sentence the judge imposed upon them, may be in breach of the law.
‘It is certainly going to be challenged… there will certainly be court cases about that particular provision.’
Geoffrey Robertson QC, head of Doughty Street Chambers, told the Telegraph that a challenge to the new law would ‘probably’ be successful.
‘This smacks of panic legislation that has not been properly thought through,’ he said.
Dominic Grieve QC, former attorney general and former chairman of the intelligence and security committee, said: ‘I don’t think that retrospectively you can change the law for prisoners already in jail. It is rather problematic.’
But former director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald told Sky News said he believed the government will be able to fend off attempts to overturn the measures, arguing that it is only proposing to change the way sentences are implemented. ‘I think it is allowed to do that,’ he told Sky News.
Promising ’fundamental changes’ earlier in the wake of the attack, Mr Johnson said: ’We are bringing forward legislation to stop the system of automatic early release. The difficulty is how to apply retrospectively to the cohort of people who currently qualify.
‘It is time to take action to ensure, irrespective of the law we are bringing in, people in the current stream don’t qualify automatically for early release.’
Mr Buckland told MPs offenders will not be considered for release until they have served two-thirds of their sentence, and that no terrorists will be released before the end of their full custodial term unless the Parole Board agrees.
The Parole Board would be ‘strengthened’ to deal more effectively with the risks that terrorists pose and steps would be taken to introduce the plans ‘as soon as possible’, he said.
The Government will also consider making new legislation to ensure that extremists are more closely monitored on release and will review whether the current maximum sentences for terrorist offences are sufficient.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told viewers of This Morning: ‘My own view, and the Prime Minister agrees as well, we cannot keep having terrorist offenders… we’ve got to stop that, we’ve got to stop them from having early release’
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been playing a key role in the response to the terror attack alongside PM Boris Johnson (right)
Police said Amman began stabbing the victims about 60 seconds after entering a shop, where he stole a knife and removed the packaging as he ran from a staff member.
A former prisoner who spent time with Amman in Belmarsh high-security prison told The Times: ‘The guy was definitely insane and he never hid his intentions, so it’s crazy how he even got out of jail.’
The man reportedly said Amman wanted to copy the murder of MP Jo Cox and told him ‘the only way to get these filthy kafirs (non-believers) out of Syria is to take out MPs like that white guy did with the lady in 2016’.
The former inmate told the newspaper that Amman ‘wanted to do something real, something organised like the (IRA) used to do’.
IS supporter Amman, who at the time of his sentencing was 18 and living in Harrow, smirked as he was jailed for three years and four months at the Old Bailey in December 2018.
The Metropolitan Police said he was released from prison on January 23 2020.
Scotland Yard said armed officers were following Amman on foot as part of a ‘proactive counter-terrorism surveillance operation’ when the incident took place.
The wave of 18 terrorists counting down the days to their automatic early release as Boris Johnson races to pass law keeping them off YOUR streets
These are the faces of 18 extremists who are set to be back on Britain’s streets within months under existing laws which allow them to be released midway through their prison sentences.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson vowed to overhaul this current system and stop 220 terrorists from being freed early.
Terrorists are currently freed after serving half or two-thirds of a sentence, depending on when they were jailed and the type of punishment imposed.
Some may have had to serve longer if their behaviour behind bars was disruptive.
The Prison Service refuses to discuss individuals, but the Daily Mail and MailOnline below names convicted terrorists thought to be due to be eligible for release this year – yet are among the extremists now in jail likely to be affected by the Prime Minister’s plan.
Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar: ‘Fundamentalist pair’ who were ‘intent on jihad’ were jailed for 13 years after leaving Britain to join al-Qaida-linked terror group
Mohammed Ahmed (left) and Yusuf Sarwar (right) were jailed 15 years and three months in 2015 for preparation of terrorist acts. Their earliest release date is November
Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Nahin Ahmed were jailed in 2014 for going to Syria to join rebel fighters.
The pair, from Birmingham, were sentenced for engaging in conducts in preparation of terrorist acts.
At the time of sentencing, the judge imposed an extended licence period of five years. They could be back on the streets in November.
Judge Michael Topolski described the two men as ‘deeply committed to violent extremism’.
He said they had ‘willingly, enthusiastically and with a great deal of purpose, persistence and determination embarked on a course intended to commit acts of terrorism’.
West Midlands Police said they were first alerted to the case when Sarwar’s parents reported him missing last year.
The two friends travelled to Syria in May 2013, where they are believed to have spent eight months with the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Moinuk Abedin: Britain’s first al-Qaeda inspired terrorist was jailed for 20 years in February 2002
Moinul Abedin was jailed 20 years in 2002 for intent to cause an explosion. Earliest release date: November
Moinul Abedin was arrested in November 2000, after police discovered bomb-making material at a rented property in Birmingham. His earliest release date is November.
Abedin, 27 at the time of his trial, lived in a terraced house in Sparkbrook, Birmingham with his young family, but rented a house nearby.
Detectives found nearly 100kg of chemicals used to manufacture the explosive HMTD.
He claimed that he and a co-defendant, who was acquitted, were setting up a fireworks business.
At the time of his sentence, current terror laws did not exist and he was prosecuted under the 1883 Explosives Act.
The terms of the 1883 legislation meant the evidence which was heard in the trial concentrated on the explosives and not Abedin’s connections or any potential plot.
It was not until 2007, five years after his conviction and nearly seven after his arrest, the security services acknowledged his significance.
Now Abedin’s name appears on the MI5’s list of terrorists convicted this century.
Aras Hamid was jailed eight years in 2016 for preparing acts of terrorism
Aras Hamid (right) was jailed for eight years in 2016 for preparing acts of terrorism. His earliest release is May
Aras Mohammed Hamid, then aged 27, was jailed for seven years for preparing acts of terrorism after he tried to join Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
He was jailed along with friend Shivan Hayder Azeez Zangana, 21, who was sentenced to three years in prison.
Azeez of Sheffield, was sent to the UK by his family to keep him safe after battling extremists with the Kurdish Peshmerga separatist group.
He was turned by fellow Kurd, asylum-seeker Hamid, and agreed to change sides and go with him to fight for so-called Islamic State.
The pair were discovered by police sleeping at a Birmingham mosque days after Azeez’s relatives had called 999 with concerns.
He had fled his home and bought a plane ticket to Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. Hamid was found two days later in a lorry on the A2 trying to flee the UK with a fake passport.
His earliest release date is May.
Muslim convert Patrick Kabele who tried to join ISIS was jailed for six years
Patrick Kabele (left) jailed six years for preparation of terrorist acts. Earliest release: February
Muslim convert Patrick Kabele, 32, who tried to join ISIS was jailed for six years after police discovered a diary in which he said he wanted to buy a nine-year-old slave girl,
The scaffolder from Willesden, North London, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court and jailed for six years with an extended licence of four years in May 2017.
The jury was not aware that Kabele had expressed violent sentiments towards women, writing in one entry about ‘seeding some women over here, UK white.’
In another entry, he wrote: ‘My plan remains the same. It’s only my [attitude] towards women and children, ie not giving a f***.
‘I am talking seeding women. Chinese, Indian, whatever. In Uganda, multiple wives and s*** on the side.’
In the diary, which was found on his phone as he tried to leave the country, Kabele said he had a ‘death wish’ and wanted to die young.
Kabele was found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism by trying to get to Syria. He could be released this month.
Jamshed Javeed was jailed six years in 2015 for preparing acts of terrorism
Jamshed Javeed was jailed for six years in 2015 for preparing to fight with ISIS in Syria. His earliest release date is March
Radicalised chemistry teacher Jamshed Javeed was jailed for six years in 2015 for preparing to fight with ISIS in Syria.
Police said the 30-year-old was ‘determined’ to leave his job and ‘fight jihadi’ but his family, including his pregnant wife, grabbed his ‘go bag’ of money, supplies and his passport.
He had intended to travel with a man he had met only three months beforehand but could not travel without his documents.
When he applied for a new passport and received it last December anti-terror police swooped and arrested him.
Javeed taught 11 to 16-year-old pupils at Sharples High School in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
His brother Mohammad Azzam, 19, is missing and presumed dead in Syria after travelling there last September.
Javeed also admitted to transferring £1,400 into his brother’s account to pay for his and a friend’s flights to the warzone shortly before his own arrest.
The other man was Anil Khalil Raoufi, 20, from Didsbury, who died in the fighting in 2015.
His earliest release date is March.
Imam’s son who claimed he travelled to Syrian border because he was ‘stressed over his A-levels’
Zakariya Ashiq (left) was jailed for six years in 2015 for preparing for terrorism. His earliest release is November
Zakariya Ashiq was jailed for six years after dropping out of his A-level studies and travelling to Turkey with his imam father to join ISIS.
Ashiq made recordings on WhatsApp telling friends ‘there is no life without Jihad’ and ‘the second I get a chance I am doing martydom’.
When he was caught, the 20-year-old told police he was ‘studying A-levels exams and becoming stressed’ and said he had planned to go to Egypt but his father had persuaded him to go to Turkey instead.
Ashiq described how his mother travelled out to Turkey and tricked him into meeting her before taking his passport and escorting him home.
On his return Ashiq began working in a tyre warehouse and engaged in conversations on the website known as ChatRoulette which pairs random people around the world for conversations over webcameras.
In the conversations Ashiq told one person he met, speaking in Arabic: ‘Thanks Allah, the Islamic State is lived by Muslims. They kill the infidels and the apostates.’
He encouraged another person to join the Islamic State, telling them: ‘It’s easy to join dawla [the State]…they will pay u good wage…find u a wife…respond to the calling brother…immigrate to the State of Islam.’
On July 11, Ashiq made a second attempt to travel abroad, this time telling police who stopped him at Birmingham Airport that he was heading for Kavos in Corfu because he didn’t want to take part in Ramadan and his parents were strict and he had begun to ‘rebel against them.’
He was then charged with preparing acts of terrorism and jailed for six years in 2015. His earliest release date is November.
Fahim Adam jailed 30 months in February 2019 for having documents useful for terrorism. Earliest release: May
Terror magazine collector who was caught after police seized his phone while investigating a car crash
Fahim Adam first came to police attention after he was caught up in a car crash in November 2017, prompting officers to seize his phone.
After analysing the device, they found he had downloaded several extremists magazines which encouraged people to commit acts of terrorism and provided information about how attacks could be carried out.
They included two editions of the ISIS propaganda publication ‘Rumiyah’ which gave Jihadists tips on how to carry out random ‘lone wolf’ knife strikes.
The 30-year-old, from Blackburn, was charged with possessing information useful to terrorism and jailed for 30 months in February 2019.
He is due for release within months.
Teenager jailed for five years for sharing beheading videos on WhatsApp
Mohammed Khilji was jailed for five years in June 2018 for sharing graphic beheading videos on WhatsApp.
The 19-year-old first came to the attention of police after he posted a video on YouTube in which he had digitally altered footage of a wargame video to make it appear that the featured soldiers were Daesh fighters.
Khilji had superimposed black Daesh flags on the ‘Battlefield’ video and overlaid it with a terrorist battle song and a quote from a Daesh propaganda magazine.
Mohammed Khilji (left) jailed five years for encouraging terrorism. Earliest release: March
Detectives searched his home on 4 July, recovering his mobile phone and a computer.
Experts examined the devices and found he had been sharing graphic videos of Daesh beheading soldiers and videos, calling for violence against non-Muslims.
One of the videos included footage of the 2017 Westminster terror attack, and concluded by offering the viewer advice on preparing a vehicle-borne bomb.
Khilji was eventually found guilty of eight counts of encouraging terrorism.
His earliest release date will be March.
Extremist who threatened to kill police officers while he was on an official deradicalisation programme
Meanwhile Mohammed Ghani jailed 28 months in May 2019 for possessing documents containing terrorist information. Earliest release: March
Mohammed Hamza Ghani told officers he found terror magazines ‘entertaining and informative’ when they were found in his possession.
Officers search the 28-year-old’s home in Barnet after he phoned 999 and the anti-terrorist hotline and claiming he was looking to kill ‘people or police’.
Ghani was already known to officials because he was undergoing the Channel intervention programme after expressing extremist views.
When officers visited him at home, the terrorist confessed that electronic devices in his bedroom contained electronic copies of terrorist magazines, including Isis and al-Qaeda propaganda.
Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Metropolitan Police counterterror command, said: ‘The officer seized his devices, including USB sticks and a laptop, and these were later analysed by digital forensic specialists. They did indeed contain terrorist publications, featuring horrendous articles about how to make different types of bombs, where to carry out terrorist attacks and how to assassinate people.’
When police asked him about the magazines, which included an issue commemorating the 11 September 2011 terror attacks, Ghani said he considered them ‘entertaining and informative’.
Ghani was jailed for 28 months in May 2019. His earliest release date is March.
Fanatic who left terror propaganda inside the shoes of Muslim worshippers while they were praying
Omar Ashfaq left memory sticks containing terrorist propaganda inside shoes while Muslim worshippers were praying. His earliest release date is September
Omar Ashfaq left memory sticks containing terrorist propaganda inside shoes while Muslim worshippers were praying.
One was found by a nine-year-old boy who had gone to the mosque with his father and older brother.
During Ramadan in May and June 2018, the 24-year-old travelled to mosques in Luton, Derby, Loughborough, Coventry and Birmingham to leave extremist and violent material.
On Friday 1 June, three USB drives containing imagery and words promoting and encouraging terrorism, were found in the shoes of people attending a mosque in Leicestershire.
The following day the same thing happened at two mosques in Bedfordshire, in which four USB drives in total were found. Five drives were also discovered at a mosque in the West Midlands.
Two days later another three devices were found at a Derbyshire mosque. A further stick was discovered at another mosque in the West Midlands shortly after.
Worshippers who found the memory sticks informed mosque authorities who were able to identify Ashfaq from CCTV footage and notified the police.
The suspect, formerly from Derby, was arrested and a search of his home and a vehicle uncovered numerous bags of USB sticks as well as notes outlining his plans.
One document labelled ‘Target: 1 week’ was a map on which a route was drawn, taking in as far north as Leeds, east to Peterborough, south to London and west to Stoke-on-Trent.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years in May last year. His earliest release date is September.
Shazib Khan – who tried to travel to Syria – is due to be released this year
Uncle jailed for trying to travel to Syria with his nephew
Shazib Khan was jailed for eight years in May 2016 for preparing to travel to Syria to join ISIS.
Mr Justice Edis, sentencing, said he had rejected English law in favour of Sharia, and had sought to fight with the terrorist group.
He was also handed an extended period of five years on licence.
Shazid Khan’s nephew, delivery driver Junead Khan, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years for plotting to kill US personnel outside Lakenheath US air base.
A court heard Junead had used his job to scout for potential victims. He had also planned to travel to Syria with his uncle.
Shazib Khan is due to be released this year.
British ISIS fighter who called himself ‘Supaman’ but returned to UK because Syria was too cold is jailed for seven years
Mohammed Uddin who referred to himself as ‘Supaman’ – travelled to the war-torn region on November 4, 2015 intending to join ISIS
Mohammed Uddin travelled to Syria to join ISIS but returned home because he disliked the ‘cold water’, ‘bland food’ and ‘doing absolutely jack’.
The security guard – who referred to himself as ‘Supaman’ – travelled to the war-torn region on November 4, 2015 intending to join ISIS.
On December 12, he crossed the border back into Turkey where he was held by the authorities because he did not have any travel documents.
He was stopped by counter terrorism officers at Gatwick Airport when he returned to Britain on December 22, who believed he was involved in terrorist-related activity and found extremist material in his possession.
Uddin, who had earlier boasted it was ‘p*** easy’ to cross the border from Turkey into Syria, quickly became disillusioned with life in the Middle East.
The 29-year-old was jailed to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of preparing acts of terrorism.
He could be released within months.
‘I’ll behead you’, extremist told officer after his stash of ‘grotesque’ execution videos were uncovered
ISIS supporter Atiq Ahmed threatened to behead a police officer when his stash of ‘grotesque’ execution videos was uncovered.
The 32-year-old, from Oldham, pleaded guilty to two counts of dissemination of a terrorist publication by posting links to disturbing IS propaganda videos, one of which was viewed on YouTube more than 37,000 times.
Ahead of his sentencing, where he was jailed for two-and-a-half years, the Old Bailey heard how his family had raised concerns in March this year, fearing he was a danger to society, citing his violent behaviour, mental health problems and solvent abuse.
He could also be out next month.
Mohammed Zahir Khan (left) tweeted his support for ISIS. Atiq Ahmed was arrested at a primary school after telling a teacher they were an ‘infidel’ and would ‘burn in hell’. They could both be released next month
Shopkeeper who tweeted his support for ISIS and called for Shia Muslims to be burned alive
Mohammed Zahir Khan, from Sunderland, was jailed for four-and-a-half years in 2018 for expressing his support for ISIS on social media.
He was found guilty after posts emerged of his called for ‘death to Shias’, while pro-ISIS videos were also discovered on his computer.
He could be released next month.
And others who are due for release soon…
Yahya Rashid: The already convicted terrorist was freed from prison on licence after attempting travelling to Syria to join ISIS but jailed for a year for hiding a phone from police.
The 23-year-old also kept an email address secret from officers but he was exposed when he made an application to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with the undisclosed contact details.
He could be released in September.
Mina Dich: Mother who led the first all-female British ISIS cell and helped her daughter, Rizlaine Boular, plan a knife attack on the Palace of Westminster in May 2017.
She was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison and could be released in August.
Yahya Rashid (left) was freed from prison on licence after attempting travelling to Syria to join ISIS but jailed for a year for hiding a phone from police. Mina Dich led the first all-female British ISIS cell and helped her daughter, Rizlaine Boular, plan a knife attack on the Palace of Westminster in May 2017
Boy X: The child became Britain’s youngest terrorist in 2015 when he was convicted for planning to attack an Anzac Day parade in Australia.
The 14-year-old had planned to behead his teachers before moving on a hit list of targets.
He was jailed for life but will be eligible for parole this year.
As the PM scrambled to appease a national outcry over early released terrorists:
- Sources said Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman failed to attend deradicalisation courses in prison and was associating with extremists, telling them he approved of the London Bridge terror attack last year;
- He was described by school friends as a dope-smoking weirdo who vowed: ‘When I grow up I am going to be a terrorist’;
- His ex-girlfriend described their relationship as ‘one of the worst experiences of my life’;
- One of the two people he stabbed was revealed to be a nursery teacher who had been out for coffee with her friends;
- Police raided the home of Amman’s associate, a drug dealer who is understood to have met the terrorist while playing video games online.
Some senior lawyers have poured cold water on Mr Johnson’s overhaul of the system, and said it risks offenders walking free with no surveillance while simultaneously causing a huge backlog in the courts.
Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said: ‘Time on licence is intended as a transition from prison to full release.
‘If the licence period is instead spent in custody, we risk releasing inmates without any supervision, without any transition and without any opportunity for the probation service to recall them to prison if there are concerns about their post-release behaviour.
‘If the rules for some prisoners are now changed mid-sentence so that time on licence is actually spent in prison, there is greater chance those prisoners will want to appeal their sentences – further clogging up an already overloaded system.’
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, said: ‘In light of this announcement, we would urge the Government to take care in considering any sentencing changes that may apply retrospectively.
‘Sentencing is a complex exercise, requiring consideration of a range of factors, including the need to express clearly and publicly the nature of the penalty which is being imposed, which we note was done in this case.
‘It is important that any proposed reform which could retrospectively alter the punishment for an offence, should be the subject of careful consideration, to ensure that it complies with the rule of law.’
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘Given the recent events at London Bridge and Streatham, the Parole Board understands and welcomes the Government’s plans to ensure that terrorist offenders are not released automatically, as occurred in these incidents but are instead considered by an independent panel of the Parole Board. Our over-riding priority is the protection of the public.’
Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, says he wants all terrorist inmates to undergo a parole review rather than being entitled to automatic release part-way through their sentences.
This will apply to serving prisoners – thought to be around 220 – as well as those jailed in the future, he said, because of the ‘unprecedented situation of severe gravity’ facing this country.
Terrorists will only be eligible for release at two-thirds of the way through their sentence and only when the Parole Board agrees, he said.
Government sources said a review will look at whether some terrorists ‘should ever be released’.
They hinted at an entirely new sentencing structure which would hand offenders a set number of years in prison, but they would not be released at all if they continued to pose a threat.
In other words, ministers may re-introduce controversial ‘indeterminate’ sentences.
Separately, last month Home Secretary Priti Patel announced offences such as ‘preparing acts of terrorism’ would have sentences significantly boosted in a new Bill. The minimum term would increase from three years to 14.
There will be emergency legislation this week to introduce restrictions on automatic release. Other measures will require an Act of Parliament.
The Parole Board will be bolstered with a new independent body, possibly named the ‘terrorist public protection panel’.
It will comprise judges and former judges familiar with terrorism cases to decide when extremists should be freed.
The Lord Chancellor will have been warned he risks breaching terrorists’ human rights.
Retrospective legislation potentially presents problems. Under the European Convention on Human Rights – enshrined in UK law under Labour’s Human Rights Act 1998 – criminals are entitled to be dealt with by the law as it stands at the time.
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