Following a recent terrorist attack on the 2 February which involved the automatic early release of a prisoner Sudesh Amman attacking innocent people on the streets of Streatham, new emergency legislation has been passed to prevent this happening again. Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans announced The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill was passed by MPs. Amman had only been released around a week earlier after serving half of his sentence of three years and four months for terror offences. Boris Johnson declared that there will be “fundamental changes to the system for dealing with those convicted of terrorism offences”.
The previous system allowed for those found guilty of terror offences being free to go after serving half their sentence. The new law will ensure terrorists serve a minimum of two-thirds of their sentence before they will be considered for release. There has been criticism from inmate’s lawyers and some are preparing a legal challenge on the basis that when convicted inmates were told they would automatically be released half way and therefore have a ‘legitimate expectation’ of being released at this date. Ministers are confident the bill is legally sound and believe that they are altering sentences not completely changing them.
Since the passing of this legislation the independent Parole Board will only release an inmate if they are satisfied they no longer pose a threat. Upon their release they will be subject to the strictest possible conditions and ongoing monitoring. However, in the case of Sudesh Amman, if this legislation had been in place at the time it would have only made a difference of an extra six months in prison. Many argue that it only allows for a brief extension in protection. The success of passing The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill will be evaluated over the upcoming year to asses if it is protecting the public further.
Carys McIntyre, GCU Law Clinic Volunteer