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The sentencing guidelines in England and Wales have been revised for terrorism offences. The new guidelines come into force on 1 October 2022. They have been published by the Sentencing Council following a consultation.
Updates to the current guidelines
The current sentencing guidelines for terrorism offences were published in 2018. Following a consultation, the Sentencing Council decided that revisions were needed, as certain aspects were out of date. In particular, it was necessary to reflect the increases in maximum sentences and other changes brought about by new laws enacted in 2019 and 2021.
Now, judges have new guidance to follow when sentencing offenders who meet the criteria for a ‘serious terrorism sentence’. This carries a minimum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
The revised guidelines now also cover offenders who view material over the internet or download it to use in a specific terrorist act. This carries a range of up to 14 years in custody. The encouragement of terrorism also carries an increased sentence level of up to 14 years.
Furthermore, the sentencing guidelines for the funding of terrorism now include factors relating to the extent to which the offender knew that the money or property may be used for the purposes of terrorism. The membership of a terrorist organisation and support of terrorism now carries an increased sentence level of up to 13 years in custody.
Will there by longer prison sentences?
The revised sentencing guidelines will likely result in longer custodial sentences being handed out, particularly for those found guilty of more serious offences. However, the number of individuals actually convicted of terrorism offences in England and Wales is relatively low, so the changes will probably have very little impact on prison and probation resources.
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