End to automatic early release of terrorists

The Ministry of Justice has announced that emergency legislation will end the automatic early release of terrorist offenders, as the government takes decisive action to protect the public and keep our streets safe.

The urgent laws, unveiled by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, will ensure terrorist offenders cannot be released before the end of their sentence without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board. It means that those considered still a threat to public safety will be forced to spend the rest of their time in prison. This will apply to offenders sentenced for crimes such as training for terrorism, membership of a proscribed organisation, and the dissemination of terrorist publications.

It will also mean that roughly 50 terrorist prisoners already serving affected sentences will see their automatic release halted.

In addition to this, the government will use the Bill to ensure that when a terrorist offender is released they will be subject to robust safeguards, which could include notification requirements, restrictions on travel and communications, and imposed curfews.

Buckland said: “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 making sure no terror offender is released early without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board. And we are not stopping there. We are stepping-up deradicalisation measures in our prisons, introducing a 14-year minimum for the worst terrorist offenders, and giving more money to the police to deal with these horrific crimes.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Recent months have been a stark reminder of the threat we continue to face from terrorism. We are determined to ensure that dangerous terrorists are not free to spread their hateful ideologies or harm the public. 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.”

The Bill is expected to be debated in Parliament as a matter of urgency, receiving Royal Assent by the end of February.


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