19:36, July 14 307 0 theguardian.com

2017-07-14 19:36:03
Law to be changed so terror offenders' jail terms can be lengthened

The legal scheme under which anyone can ask for convicted criminals to be given tougher sentences is to be extended to cover more terrorist offences.

An order will be laid before MPs next week allowing those found guilty of encouraging terrorism, sharing terrorist propaganda and related offences to be brought back to court to have their punishment reassessed.

The Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) procedure – which allows victims and the public to query sentences handed out by judges – will now also include crimes such as membership of banned organisations and taking part in weapons training.

The scheme permits anyone to ask the attorney general to review a sentence. Where the senior law officer deems it appropriate, the case can be referred to the court of appeal for reconsideration.

The most serious terror offences, as well as crimes such as murder and rape, are already covered by the scheme.

The latest additions, which come into force three weeks after being placed before parliament, cover 19 offences including supporting extremist organisations, encouraging acts of terror or failing to disclose information about a terrorist attack.

The justice minister, Dominic Raab, said: “We want the most robust sentences for any terrorist crimes and for victims to have every opportunity to see justice delivered.

“Our action will reinforce our focus on deterring people who help radicalise terrorists, and punishing those who wilfully turn a blind eye to terrorist activity.”

Plans to extend the scheme were first announced at the Conservative party conference last year. In 2015, the attorney general referred 136 cases to the court of appeal, with the court increasing the sentences of 102 offenders.

Police have thwarted five terror attacks in recent weeks, including some which were “very close” to being carried out, Britain’s most senior police officer said on Friday.

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, told Nick Ferrari’s show on the LBC radio station that a “very large number of plots” have been foiled over the last few years.

Pressed on exactly how many attacks have been thwarted, she said that in “just the last few weeks” five had been averted.

This year alone, the UK has been targeted by four terror attacks – three in London and one in Manchester – which killed and injured scores of people.

The commissioner later clarified that the five attacks she had referred to had been thwarted over the last “three to four months”.