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Minimum 14-year jail terms for most dangerous terror offenders

The entrance of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill in Parliament signals the largest overhaul of terrorist sentencing and monitoring in decades and will see terrorists face a minimum of 14 years behind bars for serious offences and tougher monitoring.

The legislation will end early release for terror offenders who receive Extended Determinate Sentences, where the maximum penalty was life, and force them to serve their whole term in jail. Additionally, the Bill will allow the courts to consider if any serious offence is terror-related, for example an offence involving firearms where there is a proven terrorist connection, and allow tougher sentences to be imposed.

The Ministry of Justice has also said that the Bill will see the most dangerous offenders - those found guilty of serious terror offences such as the worst examples of preparing acts of terrorism - handed a minimum 14-year prison term and up to 25 years on licence.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, said: “Terrorists and their hateful ideologies have no place on our streets. They can now expect to go to prison for longer and face tougher controls on release. From introducing a 14-year minimum for the most dangerous offenders, to putting in place stricter monitoring measures, this government is pursuing every option available to tackle this threat and keep communities safe.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel commented: “The shocking attacks at Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham revealed serious flaws in the way terrorist offenders are dealt with.  We promised to act and today we are delivering on that promise. Those who senselessly seek to damage and destroy lives need to know we will do whatever it takes to stop them.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said: “This bill would ensure dangerous terrorists serve sentences proportionate to their crimes, as well as bolster our ability to monitor those in the community who might still pose a threat. Counter Terrorism Policing support changes in legislation which would increase our ability to protect the public, but this can only work effectively if used alongside a whole society approach aiming to reduce that threat in the long term.

“The new powers in this bill would only be used against a small number of the most dangerous terrorist offenders, and we need to focus just as much attention on the only strategy which attempts to divert people away from violent extremism altogether – Prevent.

“Whether Prevent is attempting to stop someone following a path towards terrorism, or hoping to rehabilitate and de-radicalise those who have already been convicted, it is our best hope in reducing the threat in the long term. Which is why I am pleased this bill would also allow the Independent Review of Prevent the time it needs to carefully consider all angles of the debate surrounding the strategy, and hopefully deliver an outcome which will strengthen our first line of defence against terrorism.”

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