Q&A

Scottish Daily Mail - - New Blitz on Terror -

When was Khan jailed and for how long?

Khan was given an open-ended jail term – known as an ‘im­pris­on­ment for pub­lic pro­tec­tion’, or IPP – in Jan­uary 2012 at Wool­wich Crown Court af­ter plead­ing guilty to one count of ‘en­gag­ing in con­duct in prepa­ra­tion for acts of ter­ror­ism’. The sen­tenc­ing judge Mr Jus­tice Wilkie spec­i­fied a min­i­mum cus­to­dial term of eight years. But to se­cure his free­dom, Khan would have to con­vince the Pa­role Board that he no longer posed a risk.

What hap­pened then?

In an ap­peal in March 2013, Khan’s lawyers won their case – and he was given a term with a de­fin­i­tive end point. The need for Khan’s re­lease to be ap­proved by the Pa­role Board was also dropped. Ap­peal judges im­posed an ex­tended sen­tence of 21 years which com­prised a cus­to­dial ele­ment of 1 years and a five-year ‘ex­ten­sion pe­riod’. The 1 -year cus­to­dial ele­ment meant he was el­i­gi­ble for re­lease at the half­way point – eight years.

Why is only half of a sen­tence served?

It has been a con­ven­tion since the 19 0s that half of a term is served in pris­ons. The rest of a sen­tence is served ‘on li­cence’, when an of­fender can be quickly sent back to jail if they fail to be­have.

When was Khan fi­nally freed?

The Pa­role Board was quick to point out af­ter Fri­day’s at­tack that Khan’s re­lease was not re­ferred to them he was au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased at the half­way point. He re­mained on ‘ex­tended li­cence’ and had to report to po­lice and pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers, wear a GPS elec­tronic tag and ful­fil other re­quire­ments.

How did laws passed by a former Labour gov­ern­ment af­fect the Court of Ap­peal’s op­tions?

PM Boris John­son has said Khan had to be ‘au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased half­way through’ be­cause of changes Labour made in 2008 to Ex­tended Sen­tences for Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion or EPPs. This is cor­rect. Un­til 2008, any­one on an EPP had to have their re­lease ap­proved by the Pa­role Board. If they were re­fused, the board could keep them in jail up to the end of their cus­to­dial pe­riod, which in Khan’s case was 1 years. But in mid-2008, Labour made re­lease au­to­matic half­way through. How­ever, the Court of Ap­peal could po­ten­tially have up­held the orig­i­nal IPP sen­tence.

How can min­is­ters toughen up the sen­tenc­ing of ter­ror­ists?

Khan’s atrocity has reignited de­bate over whether there is now a case to re­move en­ti­tle­ment to early re­lease for con­victed ter­ror­ists. PM Boris John­son has al­ready said they should be made to serve ‘ev­ery day’ of their terms. Some im­por­tant steps have al­ready been taken. Ex­tended De­ter­mi­nate Sen­tences (EDS), brought in in 2012, only al­low con­victed ter­ror­ists to ap­ply for pa­role two-thirds through their sen­tence, with no au­to­matic en­ti­tle­ment for re­lease. The Counter Ter­ror­ism and Bor­der Se­cu­rity Act, which won Royal Assent in Fe­bru­ary, tough­ens jail terms for a range of of­fences and – cru­cially – makes it eas­ier to keep ter­ror sus­pects be­hind bars be­yond the half­way point. It ex­tended two types of sen­tence – the EDS and Sen­tences for Of­fend­ers of Par­tic­u­lar Con­cern (SOPC) – to a num­ber of mid­dler­ank­ing ter­ror of­fences. A clearer struc­ture could set out un­der­lin­ing prin­ci­ples such as whether early re­lease is al­lowed, and whether the Pa­role Board or min­is­ters should ap­prove any re­lease be­fore it takes place rather than it tak­ing place au­to­mat­i­cally. A clearer struc­ture would help un­der­line how the jus­tice sys­tem should deal with ter­ror­ists.

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