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

The Sunday Telegraph - - London Bridge Terror Attack - By Martin Evans and Robert Verkaik

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.”

51

The num­ber of ter­ror­ists re­leased on to Bri­tain’s streets last year, more than half of them serv­ing sen­tences of over four years

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