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Supervision of terrorists reinforced with new powers

In response to an independent review by Jonathan Hall QC, the government has announced that the monitoring of convicted terrorists and others who pose a terror risk will be strengthened.

While well-established processes were deemed to be already in place between police, probation and other agencies to manage terrorism-risk offenders, Hall made a series of recommendations to improve them, some of which are already underway as part of the government’s Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill. This includes plans to require terrorists under probation supervision to undergo polygraph testing and giving judges more discretion to decide a crime is terror-related, so that they can impose a tougher sentence.

The National Probation Service has also created a new National Security Division which will double the number of specialist officers dedicated to supervising terrorism-risk offenders and strengthen its work with police, prisons and the security services.

The government has also confirmed it will bring forward new legislation to give police the powers to search terrorist offenders on licence and obtain warrants to check they are complying with the terms of their release, for example by searching their home or seizing electronic devices.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This year we have witnessed horrific terrorist attacks at home and abroad, which is why we have taken significant steps to amend our powers and strengthen our tools to tackle the threats our country faces. The British public should be in no doubt that we will take the strongest possible action to keep them safe, and these new powers will further bolster the improvements already being made by the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill.”

Other changes outlined in the government response to his report include: yhe creation of a new category of MAPPA, specifically for terrorism-risk offenders; clarifying data protection laws to reinforce that any organisation involved in the supervision of offenders through MAPPA can share information; and that every terrorism-risk offender will now spend up to 12 months in an Approved Premises when released from prison on licence.

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