Release restriction Bill to become law before next terrorist freed

The Bill was designed in response to recent attacks

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Emergency legislation to stop the automatic early release of terrorist offenders will become law later this week, just before the next terrorist prisoner is eligible to be freed.

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill has cleared the Commons, received an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords and passed its committee stage unamended.

The plans, which will affect around 50 prisoners, will ensure those convicted of terror offences will only be considered for release after they have served two-thirds of their sentence, as opposed to the current half-way mark.

They will need to be reviewed by a panel of specialist judges and psychiatrists at the Parole Board before being deemed eligible for freedom.

The legislation was designed in the wake of the Streatham terror attack earlier this month in which convicted terrorist Sudesh Amman stabbed two people, having been freed midway through his sentence less than two weeks before.

The attack came just three months after another convicted terrorist, Usman Khan, stabbed two people to death and injured three others near London Bridge.

The quick passage of the Bill through Parliament means that it was become law before the next terrorist is eligible for release.

Mohammed Zahir Khan, who posted material supporting IS on social media, was due to be released from prison on February 28, less than two years into his four-and-a-half year sentence.

The legislation was subject to some cross-party criticism of its retrospective nature.

Conservative politician Lord Keen acknowledged it was an “unusual step” but insisted it reflected the “unprecedented gravity of the situation” and the “danger posed to the public”.

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