People who fail to report terrorists to face longer prison sentences

  29 December 2017    Read: 1066
People who fail to report terrorists to face longer prison sentences
People who fail to report terrorists to police or tip them off about investigations could have “unduly lenient” sentences increased as part of an ongoing crackdown, reports citing the Independent.
Nine terror-related offences are being added to a scheme that saw more than 400 years of imprisonment added to 141 criminals’ sentences last year.

The Attorney General said that in the vast majority of court cases the “judiciary get it right”, but the expanding programme allows sentences to be adjusted at the request of victims or the public.

“The scheme gives anyone the ability to challenge sentences within the scheme they think are too low and I’m pleased that more offences will now be included,” Jeremy Wright QC said.

The Government said the extension showed ministers were “acting to ensure sentences reflect the devastating impact terrorism has on victims and communities”, following a record year of terror arrests in a period that saw five attacks hit the UK and nine plots foiled.

Dominic Raab, the justice minister, said counter-terrorism powers were under constant review, adding: “These changes will strengthen our ability to punish and deter those who tip off individuals involved in terrorism, and reinforce the conditions imposed by the authorities on individuals subject to monitoring, supervision or control.”

The Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme gives anyone the power to ask the Attorney General to review a sentence and refer a case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.

The new crimes being added cover incidents where someone learns of terrorist activity through their work and fails to report information to the police, such as an accountant discovering a client is funding a proscribed group.

They will also see punishments increased for breaching orders imposed to protect the public, including powers to ban suspected Isis fighters who return to the UK.

Another 19 terror offences, including encouraging terrorism and sharing propaganda, were added to the scheme in July following a Conservative manifesto pledge. The first case stemming from that extension will reach the Court of Appeal next month.

Powers for the nine added crimes will come into force on 29 January, including failing to disclose information on terrorist property, tipping off terrorists on investigations or controlled information, failing to comply with control orders, temporary exclusion orders or a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure (TPIM).

Aviation Security Act offences governing dangerous articles that must not be taken on to planes and hoaxes involving noxious substances, such as malicious hate mail or fake chemical attacks, are also being targeted.

Justice campaigners have warned the Government over the impact of pushing for increased prison sentences, including on other issues like knife carrying and acid attacks, amid a crisis driving riots and record levels of violence and self-harm.

Reoffending rates are high and prisons themselves have been a breeding ground for terrorism in the past, with the Westminster attacker, Khalid Masood, among extremists who converted to Islam inside jail.

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has cautioned against the potential imposition of minimum terms for convicted terrorists, saying punishment must be flexible according to the offender

In a speech in October, Max Hill QC questioned whether there was an evidential basis for increasing maximum jail terms for some offences when there had already been “dramatic increases” in the last 15 years, adding: “I do not contend that this was an unnecessary shift, in relation to the most serious cases, but it begs the question whether in more modest or middle-ground terrorist offences there is a real need – as opposed to a political desire – to mark the offenders with far longer terms in jail.”

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