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Independent Review of Supervision of Terrorism and Terrorism-risk Offenders

Volume 679: debated on Wednesday 2 September 2020

Last November Usman Khan brutally murdered Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt before being shot dead by police on London Bridge. Khan was being supervised by the National Probation Service (NPS) on a post-release licence following a number of years in prison for terrorist offences. He was subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), where the NPS, prisons and police work together with other agencies, including, when it comes to terrorist offenders, the security services to assess and manage the risk presented by known dangerous offenders.

Protecting the public from harm is the first duty of any government, and police, prison, probation and intelligence officers work tirelessly to keep our country safe. However, they can only manage and reduce the risk posed by dangerous individuals, it can never be eliminated entirely. Some offenders will always be determined to sow terror, despite all the efforts made to divert them from extremism.

It is, therefore, imperative that we seize every opportunity to improve our counter-terrorism efforts. That is why, as part of our response to the London Bridge attack, the government asked Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, to review the effectiveness of MAPPA when it comes to managing terrorist offenders and other offenders who may pose a terror risk. The terms of reference were published in January:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/multi-agency-public-protection-arrangements-review/terms-of-reference-independent-review-of-the-statutory-multi-agency-public-protection-arrangements

The review includes an annex assessing the tools available to manage radicalised offenders with serious mental health needs.

The importance of this review was further highlighted by the horrific attack in Streatham in February in which two people were stabbed. Thankfully, their lives were saved by the rapid work of the emergency services, and the attacker, Sudesh Amman, was shot dead before he could inflict more harm. He, too, was a convicted terrorist subject to MAPPA management and had recently left prison.

Jonathan Hall’s review did not consider the circumstances that led up to these attacks - separate reviews are still under way.

Jonathan Hall found that MAPPA is a well-established process and did not conclude that wholesale change is necessary. He has made a number of recommendations on how the management of terrorists can be improved and the government, police and prison and probation service have been working on changes in line with many of them. For example, we are already legislating to require terrorist offenders to undergo polygraph testing; in addition, we are also legislating so that other offenders can have their crimes identified as terror-related, even if not terror offences as set out in law.

We are also establishing a division of specialist staff in the NPS to manage terrorist risk offenders, bringing together counter-terrorism expertise in one place and strengthening its work with the police and security services.

This is on top of our wider efforts to tackle terrorism:

Increasing funding for Counter-Terrorism Police by 10% this year to over £900 million.

Doubling the number of probation staff who supervise terrorist offenders.

Strengthening the tools used to monitor and manage extremist individuals, including Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measures and Serious Crime Prevention Orders.

Ensuring terrorists spend longer in prison, including by creating a minimum 14-year jail term for those convicted of serious terror offences.

We are considering the remainder of Jonathan Hall’s recommendations and hope to set out our response shortly. The full report has been published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/multi-agency-public-protection-arrangements-review

[HCWS435]