Ter­ror law sen­tences should be re­viewed – watch­dog

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

MAX­I­MUM sen­tences for some ter­ror­ism crimes may be too low and should be re­viewed, the ter­ror laws watch­dog has said.

Max Hill QC gave the ex­am­ple of the of­fence of fail­ing to alert au­thor­i­ties to pos­si­ble at­tacks, which can­not at­tract a jail term of more than five years.

Mr Hill, the In­de­pen­dent Re­viewer of Ter­ror­ism Leg­is­la­tion, in­sisted there was no need for a raft of fresh leg­is­la­tion on the ba­sis that “some­thing must be done” af­ter the UK was hit by a flurry of at­tacks this year.

But he told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion there may be as­pects of ex­ist­ing laws which can be amended and im­proved.

He said: “With the ben­e­fit of ex­pe­ri­ence and hind­sight it may be the case that some of­fences have in­suf­fi­cient dis­cre­tionary max­i­mum sen­tences, which should be re­viewed.”

Mr Hill flagged up sec­tion 38B of the Ter­ror­ism Act 2000, un­der which an in­di­vid­ual com­mits an of­fence if they do not in­form po­lice when they be­lieve some­one is pre­par­ing acts of ter­ror­ism.

A num­ber of de­fen­dants who as­sisted the plot­ters be­hind the failed July 21 bomb­ings in 2005 were con­victed un­der the sec­tion.

The of­fence car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of five years.

Mr Hill said: “It seems to me that that should be re­viewed for a de­ci­sion on whether that is ac­tu­ally suf­fi­cient.”

Longer sen­tences for some ter­ror-re­lated of­fences are be­ing weighed up un­der a re­view or­dered by the Gov­ern­ment in the wake of the atroc­i­ties in Lon­don and Manch­ester.

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Mr Hill also sug­gested there may be a need to look again at gen­eral crime of­fences which are “per­fectly ap­pro­pri­ate” for use in ter­ror­ism cases, but where judges can in­crease the sen­tence be­cause of the pres­ence of a “ter­ror­ist mind­set”.

He said: “We have ro­bust and ap­pro­pri­ate laws deal­ing with firearms, knives, as­saults and vi­o­lence against the per­son.

“There is al­ready a mech­a­nism for judges to re­gard a ter­ror­ist mind­set as an ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor in non-ter­ror­ist of­fences but that is some­thing that needs to be pro­vided by way of a list or a sched­ule to in­di­cate to judges which of­fences may be ag­gra­vated by a ter­ror­ist mind­set.”

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