EARLY RELEASE LEGISLATION
The Somerset Guardian, 12th February 2020
In the wake of the terrorist attack in Streatham earlier this month, the Government will ask Members of Parliament to debate emergency legislation this week on early releases for those who have committed terror-related crimes.
The new law intends to stop terrorists being released without completing their full sentences unless a comprehensive risk assessment from the Parole Board has been undertaken. Those who are considered threats to public safety must remain in gaol, serving all the time that they were sentenced to.
The legislation will extend to offences such as terrorism recruitment and training, the distribution of terrorist literature and membership of banned groups. The current system of automatic halfway release for those who are given fixed sentences will end. In its place, prisoners will have to serve a minimum of two-thirds of their term.
Regrettably, the perpetrator of the Streatham attack had been released half-way through his sentence and Usman Khan, who killed two people in London Bridge last year, had also been released early from prison. Both men had been jailed for terror-related activities.
The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, said in view of the attacks: "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."
The Lord Chancellor is right. This scenario cannot keep repeating itself. The system must be watertight so that communities are protected. Public safety is paramount and the Government will do whatever is necessary to ensure that any threat to that is mitigated.