Police anger at court actions that put Khan back on the streets
More than 500 terrorists have been set free in UK since September 11 attacks of 2011, figures show
COUNTER terror police have complained about a lack of support from the justice system after it emerged that the Fishmongers’ Hall attacker was a convicted extremist who had been let out of prison early.
Officers from the Met’s SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, privately expressed “anger and frustration”, that they were again being forced to investigate people who they had successfully put behind bars for serious offences.
A source within the elite police unit said officers felt as though they were being let down by prosecutors, judges and the sentencing system.
The source told The Sunday Telegraph: “There is a real sense of anger and frustration within our ranks over this. We are working our socks off to keep the public safe and yet it sometimes feels like we are doing it with one hand tied behind our backs.
“It is no good just doing half a job. If we are serious about fighting terrorism we need to ensure that when we catch these guys and put them before the courts, they get long sentences, that they serve in full.
“There is nothing more disheartening than coming across the same people that you put away once and who are back out posing a danger again.”
Usman Khan was jailed in 2012 for his role in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and pubs in his hometown of Stoke.
He was initially given an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), but that sentence was later quashed by the Court of Appeal and replaced with a 16-year term.
Khan was released on licence in December last year after reaching the halfway point in his sentence, minus time he had spent on remand.
He was one of 51 terrorists released on to the streets of Britain in the last year, according to figures published by the Government. More than half of those released were serving sentences of over four years, suggesting they had been convicted of serious offences.
Anjem Choudary, the firebrand preacher who founded the terror group al-Muhajiroun to which Khan belonged, was another terrorist released at around the same time.
Six al-Muhajiroun-connected terrorists were freed over a six-month period from autumn 2018, giving the authorities a headache in ensuring they were monitored effectively.
A snapshot of Home Office figures reveals that a convicted terrorist is released on to the streets at a rate of almost one a week.
More than 500 jihadists, many of them convicted of plots to murder and maim, have been set free since in the UK since the Sept 11 attacks in 2001.
As of June 30 2019, there were 218 people in custody for terrorism-related offences, unchanged from the year before. Of those in custody, the vast majority – 78 per cent – were categorised as holding Islamist extremist views. A further 15 per cent were categorised as holding far Right-wing ideologies.
The Home Office report said: “The proportion of prisoners holding farRight ideologies has increased steadily over the past three years, with the number up from 28 to 33 in the latest year. There were 14 prisoners holding ‘Other’ ideologies, an increase of two on the previous year.”
In the year ending June 30 2019, 699 people were stopped and searched by the Met under the Terrorism Act, an increase of three per cent compared with the previous year’s total of 678, continuing an upward trend since the year ending June 2015. Prior to this there was a large reduction between 2011 and 2014 when numbers fell 71 per cent from 1,280 to 369.
Yesterday, a counter terrorism specialist said the criminal justice system was playing “Russian roulette” with the public.
Chris Phillips, a former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said: “The criminal justice system needs to look at itself.
“We’re letting people out of prison. We’re convicting people for very, very serious offences and then they are releasing them back into society when they are still radicalised. How on earth can we ever ask our police services and our security services to keep us safe?
“We’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives, letting convicted, known, radicalised Jihadi criminals walk about our streets.”
Harry Fletcher, a criminal justice expert and victims’ rights campaigner, said: “There needs to be an urgent review of the system to prevent dangerous people being let out to pick up from where they left off.”
The number of terrorists released on to Britain’s streets last year, more than half of them serving sentences of over four years