New terror laws gain Royal Assent
Changes to terrorist sentencing and monitoring have been granted Royal Assent, providing courts, police and security services greater powers to protect the public.
The new Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act end the early prison release for anyone convicted of a serious terror offence and forces them to spend their whole term in jail. Under the law change, the most dangerous offenders – such as those found guilty of preparing or carrying out acts of terrorism where lives were lost or at risk – now face a minimum of 14 years in prison and up to 25 years on licence, with stricter supervision.
The Act builds on emergency legislation passed in February 2020, following the terrorist atrocities at Fishmongers’ Hall and in Streatham, which retrospectively ended automatic early release for terrorists serving standard determinate sentences.
The new legislation also enhances the tools available to counter terrorism police and the security services to manage the risk posed by terrorist offenders and individuals of concern outside of custody. This includes stronger Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures and making it easier for the police to apply for a Serious Crime Prevention Order in terrorism cases.
As a result of the law changes, the list of those offences that can be classed as terror-connected has been extended, triggerinf Registered Terrorist Offender notification requirements – meaning more offenders will be required to provide the police with regular updates on changes to their circumstances, such as a new address or when they plan to travel abroad.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill marks the largest overhaul of terrorist sentencing and monitoring in decades. This legislation will lengthen sentences for terrorists, improve monitoring of these dangerous offenders, and give the law enforcement agencies the powers to strengthen their ability to take action. Those who senselessly seek to damage and destroy lives need to know we will do everything possible to stop them. I will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security.”
Justice Secretray Robert Buckland, added: “Those who seek to kill and maim innocent people in the name of some warped ideology have no place in our society. This legislation will put terrorists behind bars for longer – protecting the public and helping to keep our streets safe.”