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UK to end early release for convicted terrorists after London Bridge attack

UK to end early release for convicted terrorists after London Bridge attack

Usman Khan, 28, was shot dead while wearing a fake explosives vest by police on London Bridge after a stabbing spree. AFP/Niklas HALLE'N

LONDON: Britain will introduce tougher jail sentences for convicted terrorists and will end early release as part of a series of measures to strengthen its response to terrorism, the government said on Tuesday (Jan 21).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make changes after an attack near London Bridge in November in which Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist who had been released early from prison, killed two people.

Khan had been sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison in 2012 with a requirement that the parole board assess his danger to the public before release. He was set free in December 2018 without such an assessment.

READ: Commentary: Why the London Bridge attacker walked free - while serving terrorism offences

"The senseless terror attack at Fishmongers' Hall in November confronted us with some hard truths about how we deal with terrorist offenders," Interior Minister Priti Patel said in a statement.

"Today we are... giving police and probation officers the resources they need to investigate and track offenders, introducing tougher sentences, and launching major reviews into how offenders are managed after they are released."

The government, elected in December, said it would introduce new counter-terrorism legislation within its first 100 days which would force dangerous offenders who receive extended determinate sentences to serve the whole time in jail.

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Those convicted of offences such as preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation would face a minimum of 14 years in prison, the government said.

They will also force such offenders to serve their whole sentence behind bars - rather than be eligible for early release - and overhaul the terrorist licensing rules.

Jonathan Hall, the government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, will oversee "a sweeping independent review" of the multi-agency system dealing with terrorism offenders, the statement added.

The proposed Bill will double the number of probation officers specialising in terrorism prisoners and introduce measures such as polygraph testing.

READ: Victims of London Bridge attack lauded by their families

It will increase the number of places available in probation hostels so officials can keep closer tabs on terrorists in the weeks after their release from prison.

The government said it would also review the support available to victims of terrorism, pledging to invest £500,000 (US$650,000) "to ensure more victims get the support and advice they need, faster".

READ: Islamic State says London Bridge attack carried out by one of its fighters

It will simultaneously increase the counter-terrorism police budget by £90 million to £906 million in the coming financial year.

The father of one of Khan's victims, Jack Merritt, a 25-year-old who had worked on a prisoner rehabilitation scheme, said at the time his son would have been upset to see his death used to justify tougher penalties.

Source: AGENCIES/aj


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