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Terrorism: Life Imprisonment

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 16110, tabled on 15 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether it is the Government's policy to seek life prison sentences for extremists who are convicted of planning terrorist attacks.

Answered on

23 June 2021

National security is this Government’s first priority and we have acted decisively to strengthen the country’s response to terrorism and ensure that we have some of the strongest measures in the world to tackle the threat.

The Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 marked a major overhaul of terrorist sentencing, including measures to strengthen the sentencing options available, improve monitoring in the community, and remove early release for the most serious offenders. Central to these measures was the introduction of a new ‘Serious Terrorism Sentence’ for dangerous offenders with a 14-year minimum prison term and up to 25 years on licence.

This Act built upon the emergency legislation passed in February 2020, the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) (TORER) Act which retrospectively ended automatic early release for terrorists serving standard determinate sentences, and we are going further by introducing new measures to strengthen the management of terrorist offenders in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

However, sentencing decisions are a matter for the independent judiciary and this Government has no wish to interfere with that principle. Since its introduction under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006, preparing an act of terrorism has carried a maximum penalty of a life sentence, so is available for the Courts to impose, depending on the circumstances of the case.