Bill to block early release of terrorists set to clear Commons

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox supports the move

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Emergency legislation to end the automatic early release of convicted terrorists is expected to clear all of its Commons stages today after it was officially put to Parliament yesterday.

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill will prevent terrorists behind bars from being automatically released from prison halfway through their sentences.

Ministers have been working to rush through the legislation and get it on to the statute book by February 27, before the next terrorist prisoner comes up for release.

It comes after two of the UK’s most recent terror attacks – one in Streatham this month and one near London Bridge in November – were carried out by convicted terrorists who had been released from jail early.

The plans will affect around 50 prisoners and aim to ensure terrorist offenders serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are considered eligible for release, rather than the current halfway mark.

Their suitability for release would then be reviewed by a panel of specialist judges and psychiatrists at the Parole Board.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis said that those who are still considered a threat to public safety "will be forced to spend the rest of their time in prison".

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said there was a “plain public interest” in the change as he gave his support for the legislation.

“My judgment - and the judgment of the government - is there is no illegality, on the contrary,” he told the Institute for Government.

Once the legislation has cleared the Commons, it will go to the House of Lords, where the government has less control over the timetable - but Commons Leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he expected peers to “handle this in a reasonable manner”.

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