Following on from the terror attacks at Fishmongers Hall on 29 November 2019 and in Streatham on 2 February 2020 the government has announced the next phase of its tougher approach to terrorism offences.
What are the aims of this proposed legislation?
The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, is designed to further strengthen the approach taken to the sentencing and release of terrorism offenders. It aims to ensure that serious and dangerous terrorism offenders will spend longer in custody, “properly reflecting the seriousness of the offences they have committed”.
The government argues that this provides both “better protection for the public”, and more time in which to “support their disengagement and rehabilitation through the range of tailored interventions available” while they are in prison.
The Bill also provides for an improved ability to manage and monitor those of “terrorism concern” when they are released, allowing for longer licence periods, and more effective additional interventions where this is required.
What is proposed?
• Offenders will spend longer in custody, by introducing the Serious Terrorism Sentence for the most serious and dangerous terrorist offenders. This sentence carries a minimum of 14 years to be spent in custody, with an extended licence period of up to 25 years.
• Removes the possibility of any early release from custody for serious and dangerous terrorist offenders, aged under and over 18, who receive an Extended Determinate Sentence.
• Increases the maximum sentence that the court can impose for three terrorism offences (membership of a proscribed organisation, supporting a proscribed organisation, and attending a place used for terrorist training), from 10 to 14 years.
• Closes a gap in existing legislation by enabling the courts to find any offence with a maximum penalty of more than two years to have a terrorist connection. This may result in a higher sentence than would otherwise be the case.
• Extending the scope of the sentence for offenders of particular concern (SOPC) by expanding the list of terrorist and terror-related offences which attract the sentence, and creating an equivalent sentence for offenders aged under 18 in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. By doing so, this will ensure terrorist offenders have a minimum period of supervision on licence of 12 months following release.
• Increase the maximum licence periods for serious and dangerous terrorist offenders for offenders aged under and over 18, and extend the application of mandatory polygraph testing when on licence to terrorist offenders aged over 18.
• Strengthening Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, supporting the use of Serious Crime Prevention Orders in terrorism cases, and expanding the list of offences that trigger the Registered Terrorist Offender notification requirements.
We will be monitoring the passage of this bill through parliament and are ready to advise any client on the potential implications of this complex piece of legislation.
How can we help?
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with any member of our vastly experienced Criminal Defence team, for assistance with any criminal law related matter.