Government to introduce emergency terror law one day before offender is due to be freed

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Police at the scene in Streatham on Sunday. (AP/Alberto Pezzali)

The government is aiming to introduce its emergency terror legislation on 27 February – one day before a convicted terrorist is due for release.

The bill, announced earlier this week following the Streatham terror attack, would prevent the early automatic release of terrorists currently in prison.

At least four other convicted terrorists are also set for release in March if the new law isn’t introduced.

A Whitehall official, quoted by PA, said on Wednesday afternoon: “If the legislation is passed by February 27, we can prevent the automatic release of any further terrorist suspects who might pose a threat to the public.”

The official said the attack in Streatham highlighted an issue surrounding terrorists with relatively short prison sentences.

Sudesh Amman carried out the Streatham attack 11 days after he was released halfway through his sentence of three years and four months. A man and a woman sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Police at the scene following the terror attack in Streatham High Road. (PA)

The official went on: “There aren’t many terrorist offenders who will be in that similar kind of scenario but if there are any, then that’s too many and that’s what we are looking to fix.”

The government plans to introduce the legislation in the Commons on Tuesday, with the aim of clearing the House by the time it rises for recess on Thursday.

The bill will then go to the Lords on 25 February, with the aim of getting royal assent on 27 February.

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The official said there are no terrorist offenders who are due to receive automatic release before that date.

Under the new law, no terrorist, including those already serving in prison, would be granted automatic release halfway through their sentence without “check or review”.

The earliest point at which offenders would be considered for release is two-thirds through the sentence, and release before the end of a sentence would be dependent on a risk assessment.

The plans have been criticised by human rights groups such as Liberty, which said “the threat to change people’s sentences retrospectively which risks breaking the law... and will create more problems than it solves”.

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