SENIOR ministers last night declared it is “time to get tough on terror” as new laws being introduced today will cage dangerous terrorists for at least 14 years.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, writing exclusively for the Daily Express, vowed no violent extremists will “ever be released without a proper risk assessment”. They said the third anniversary of the Manchester terror attack on Friday, where Salman Abedi killed 22 people in a suicide bomb attack, “demonstrates why we must put the rights of innocent people above the rights of hate-fuelled extremists”. Tough new laws being introduced to Parliament today will end the early release of dangerous terrorists and increase monitoring of offenders.
A new Serious Terrorist Sentence for extremists convicted of offences “where there was a likelihood of multiple deaths” will carry a minimum 14-year sentence.
Such criminals could also be on licence for up to 25 years.
The most dangerous terrorists, given Extended Determinate Sentence, will be forced to spend their entire jail term behind bars if the offence carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Currently, these criminals can apply for release two thirds of the way through their punishment.
Terrorists now facing longer behind bars include those convicted of weapons training, directing a terrorist organisation, preparation of terrorist acts, inciting terrorism overseas and training for terrorism.
Other extremists will only be eligible to apply to the Parole Board for release two-thirds of the way through their punishment.
Terrorists given life sentences will have to serve the minimum tariff set out by judges before the Parole Board will even consider their release.
Justice officials added that these extremists “may therefore never be released”.
Ms Patel and Mr Buckland said the terror attack in Fishmongers Hall in November, where Usman Khan killed two people in a knife rampage, and the Streatham attack where armed police gunned down Sudesh Amman as he stabbed innocent people “brought home some hard truths”.
They admitted the laws “were simply not doing enough to protect our nation.”
They wrote: “Fridays third anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack is a devastating reminder of the tragic toll of terrorism on this country.
“It demonstrates why we must put the rights of innocent people above the rights of hate-fuelled extremists.
“Terrorism is an attack on our way of life and we are unafraid to do more to protect our people.
“Its time to get tough on terror.
“These changes are strong and punitive – and we make no apologies for this.
“If you seek to threaten our freedoms and way of life, your punishment will be tougher than ever before.”
Up to 50 terrorists being sentenced every year face longer behind bars under the proposed changes, the Daily Express has learned.
Judges will also be able to consider if an offence is “terror-related”.
Ministry of Justice sources highlighted an example of a weapons dealer selling firearms. If the buyer of the guns were planning to use them in an atrocity, they could now be sentenced under terrorism laws.
Mr Buckland added: “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.”
Terrorists convicted of being a member of a banned organisation, supporting a proscribed group, or attending a place used for terrorist training also face jail terms of up to 14 years – an increase from 10 years behind bars.
Every extremist convicted of terror offences must also spend at least 12 months on licence, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.
More terrorists could also be placed under counter-terror orders known as TPIMs as officials are relaxing the burden of proof required to impose them.
These include a range of measures including enforced curfews of up to 10 hours, tagging, requiring a person to live up to 200 miles from their current address and restrictions on overseas travel.
Extremists could have their lives restricted indefinitely, under the proposals, as the maximum two-year time limit will be scrapped.
The Home Office has said the standard of proof for imposing a TPIM will be reduced from “balance of probabilities” to “reasonable grounds for suspecting.”
This means Ms Patel must therefore have reasonable grounds for suspecting that an individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity before imposing a TPIM notice.
They are the toughest tool the security services can use against people they believe to be involved in terrorism but who cannot be prosecuted or deported.
The Home Secretary added: “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.”
It is easy to forget what our lives were like before coronavirus.
But as we fight this killer virus, we must remain alert to all threats to our nation and our people.
That includes terrorism.
A despicable crime that has twice brought death and trauma to our streets in recent months, shattering innocent lives.
The horrific attacks at Fishmongers Hall and in Streatham – and the suffering they caused – were a stark reminder of the ongoing danger.
These senseless acts were committed by terrorists whose early release from prison we were powerless to block – and this brought home some hard truths.
The laws we inherited were simply not doing enough to protect our nation. An urgent change in approach was needed and this Government has not hesitated to make.
We refuse to allow those peddling hateful ideologies to return to our streets early and unchallenged.
It is simply not right that a terrorist can be released automatically before the end of their sentence.
The immediate action we took after the Streatham attack – which blocked the planned automatic release on licence of terrorists in prison – and todays landmark legislation will stop this for good.
It means no dangerous terrorist can ever be released without a proper risk assessment.
The most serious offenders will serve their full sentence behind bars and a minimum of 14 years in jail.
And when they are released, they will face stricter monitoring than ever before, including lie detector tests.
Fridays third anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack is a devastating reminder of the tragic toll of terrorism on this country.
It demonstrates why we must put the rights of innocent people above the rights of hate-fuelled extremists.
We owe it to the victims of terrorism, their families, and the law-abiding people of Britain, to keep these dangerous offenders off our streets.
And, when innocent people are tragically caught up in these evil attacks, we owe them the right support.
Terrorism is an attack on our way of life and we are unafraid to do more to protect our people.
Its time to get tough on terror.
These changes are strong and punitive – and we make no apologies for this.
If you seek to threaten our freedoms and way of life, your punishment will be tougher than ever before.