Jonathan Hall QC has said that longer terrorism sentences introduced in April 2021 may not act as a “deterrent”, but will instead have “an incapacitative purpose”.
Will Longer Sentences Deter The Terrorist
If you have been accused of terrorism-related offences and you need a solicitor, please contact us at Ashmans. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also offer free police station representation.
Increase in terrorism sentences
In April 2021, the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act introduced a new “serious terrorism offence sentence”. This allows for up to 14 years’ imprisonment with monitoring for up to 25 years after release. The penalty for certain other terrorism-related offences was also increased from 10 years to 14 years in prison.
Now, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has said that longer sentences are unlikely to deter extremists who plot to kill multiple victims.
Jonathan Hall QC stated that: “there is no evidence that the serious terrorism offence sentence provisions have a deterrent purpose and given the cohort of offenders in question – terrorist offenders who have risked multiple deaths – it is highly unlikely that they will be deterred by the prospect of a statutory minimum term of 14 years. It is much more likely that the provisions have an incapacitative purpose, by ensuring that offenders are held in prison for longer.”
Yet some have highlighted that this gives offenders greater opportunity to radicalise other prisoners during their sentence. David Lammy MP said: “there’s little use in increasing sentences for terrorists if we are to release them just a few years later, still committed to their hateful ideology, still determined to wreak havoc”. Others have suggested a longer prison sentence allows terrorists more time to engage in deradicalization programmes.
Failure to share MI5 information
The debate over terrorism sentences is taking place against the backdrop of the coroner’s report into the Fishmonger’s Hall attack.
In November 2019, Usman Khan fatally stabbed two people in London’s Fishmonger Hall after having been released from prison on licence. He had been imprisoned for trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and MI5 believed he was planning an attack. Yet this information was not passed on to the probation officers responsible for Khan following his release from custody. He was invited to attend the event – which was about prisoner education – without a police escort or a search of his bag.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC has now published a damning report saying there were “missed opportunities” to share information between MI5, the Probation Service and other agencies. He has made 22 recommendations to prevent future deaths. This includes random drug testing for offenders on licence, and allowing police to search terrorist offenders released under licence without specific legal grounds.
False Terrorist Acusations solicitors – England and Wales
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