A political row is still continuing over the early release of the London Bridge attacker, Usman Khan.
– What have the Conservatives said?
Boris Johnson said Khan, who was released on licence halfway through a 16-year prison sentence, was on the streets because of laws introduced by a “leftie government”.
The Prime Minister has called for an end to automatic early release as well as the complete end of release on licence for people convicted of terror offences.
In a statement on Saturday, he said: “The terrorist who attacked yesterday was sentenced 11 years ago under laws passed in 2008 which established automatic early release.
“This system has got to end – I repeat, this has got to end, as I’ve been saying for four months. If you are convicted of a serious terrorist offence, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years – and some should never be released.
“Further, for all terrorism and extremist offences, the sentence announced by the judge must be the time actually served – these criminals must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions.”
– What does the law say at the moment?
The majority of offenders sent to prison are released halfway through their sentences, taking into account time served in custody between their arrest and their conviction.
However, some defendants are said to be “dangerous” and a judge can impose a longer sentence – where they are only considered for release after serving two-thirds.
Under current Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) rules, a person sentenced to prison for 10 years or more, or for serious offence including terrorism, will have to apply to the Parole Board to prove they are safe to be released.
When released part-way through, defendants are said to be on licence outside of prison for the remainder of their sentences and are monitored by the probation service with limits on what they can do.
If someone re-offends during their licence period, they may be recalled to prison to serve the remainder of their original jail term.
– What changes would the Conservatives make?
UK PM Boris Johnson says there are 74 people who have been released from prison in similar circumstances to the London Bridge attacker, adding they will be "properly invigilated to ensure there is no threat to the public"https://t.co/LowGsH0uUV #Marr pic.twitter.com/TTO5sjLMuU
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 1, 2019
In August, Mr Johnson ordered an urgent review of sentencing policy, saying that dangerous criminals must be taken off the streets and punishments “truly fit the crime” if the public was to have confidence in the justice system.
A Sentencing Bill included in the Queen’s Speech in October, which became defunct once the election was called, would have changed the automatic release point from halfway to two thirds for adult offenders serving sentences of four years or more for serious violence or sexual offences.
Although the extended sentences are available to judges, the legislation proposed by the Conservatives would make the longer jail terms mandatory for certain offences.
Asked why these changes have not happened under the last decade of Conservative government in an interview on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said: “I’m a new Prime Minister, we take a different approach.”
– What has Labour said?
Jeremy Corbyn says convicted terrorists should "not necessarily" serve their full prison sentences.
The London Bridge attacker, Usman Khan, was released halfway through a 16-year prison sentence for terrorism. #Ridge
— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 1, 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said convicted terrorists should “not necessarily” serve their full prison sentence.
Mr Corbyn told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that it “depends on the circumstances” and that it was “not necessarily” the case that people convicted of terrorism offences needed to serve a full prison sentence.
He said: “I think there has to be an examination of how our prison services work and crucially what happens to them on release from prison.”
The Labour leader talked about the roles of the Probation Service and Parole Board, though the latter agency was not involved in Khan’s case.
Mr Corbyn continued: “There has to be an examination of what goes on in the prison because prisons ought to be a place where people are put away because of major serious offences but also a place where rehabilitation takes place.”
– What changes would Labour make?
In its manifesto, Labour said it would provide a “publicly run, locally accountable probation service” to manage offenders upon their release on prison, reforming the currently part-privatised agency.
Mr Corbyn used a speech in York on Sunday to say cuts can lead to “missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit absolutely inexcusable acts”.
He said: “Take the probation service, part-privatised in 2014, resulting in disaster… The most serious cases stayed in a justice system badly undermined by austerity cuts.
“A failure to recruit has left huge staffing shortfalls, with staff supervising more cases than ever expected, posing again a serious risk to our security. You can’t keep people safe on the cheap.”