More than 160 terror prisoners freed early in last seven years

13 February 2020, 06:10

Convicted terrorist Sudesh Amman, 20, who was shot dead by armed police following what police declared as a terrorist-related incident
Convicted terrorist Sudesh Amman, 20, who was shot dead by armed police following what police declared as a terrorist-related incident. Picture: PA

More than 160 convicted terrorist prisoners have been released early from jail over the last seven years, an ex-minister has shockingly revealed.

Former security minister John Hayes told the Commons 163 convicted terrorists have been released early from prison since 2013.

Sir John said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the figures, which do not include offenders who have served fewer than 12 months behind bars.

He added: "Just imagine the effect on our security services and police of having to deal with the possible consequences of those releases."

Sir John said he expected some of the people released would have been rehabilitated and de-radicalised.

He added: "But we know that's not always the case."

The information comes as MPs tried to rush through an emergency law to end the automatic early release of terror offenders.

The 163 let out since 2013 does not include those who served less than 12 months in jail.

The Tory MP said: “Leaving aside the short sentences, the more serious terrorist prisoners have been released in significant numbers.

Ministers want to get the new legislation on the statute book by February 27 before the next wave of terror prisoners are due for release.

Emergency legislation to prevent the automatic release from prison of terrorist offenders halfway through their sentences has moved closer to becoming law.

MPs allowed the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill to clear all its Commons stages on Wednesday and it will now progress to the Lords for further scrutiny.

It follows the Streatham terror attack earlier this month, when Sudesh Amman stabbed two bystanders with a knife he had grabbed from a shop.

The 20-year-old was jailed in December 2018 for possessing and distributing terrorist documents but had been freed midway through his sentence less than a fortnight earlier.

It was the second attack in three months to be carried out by a convicted terrorist, after Usman Khan stabbed and killed two people at Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge in November.

He had been released nearly a year earlier, halfway through a 16-year jail sentence.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told LBC that the emergency anti-terror legislation being which is being pushed through Parliament is necessary to "keep people safe on the streets".

She said: "As we saw in December last year, and just two weekends ago in Streatham, where we have had individuals that have been convicted for terrorist offences, they were released from prison early under the automatic early release scheme where they had no contact with a parole board, so no engagement whatsoever and they were then released from prison.

"That is what we want to stop. We want to stop terrorist offenders from leaving prison early and also from leaving prison without any engagement with a parole officer.

"So this legislation will change that stop the automatic early release of these offenders, these terrorist offenders, people that have committed very serious and significant crimes."

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

Before being freed they would need to be reviewed by a panel of specialist judges and psychiatrists at the Parole Board.