Johnson Seeks Change to Sentencing Rules After Terror Attack
(Bloomberg) -- A majority Conservative government will stop the automatic early release of people guilty of terror crimes, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, levering the fallout from Friday’s incident on London Bridge to make law and order one of the key issues before next month’s general election.
The man who went on a stabbing rampage in the capital has been identified by police as Usman Khan, who was released from prison on parole in December 2018. He was one of nine people convicted in 2012 for offenses ranging from a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange to planning a terrorist training camp.
Khan originally received an indeterminate sentence, which was changed on appeal in 2013 to 16 years. Johnson said he was sentenced under laws passed in 2008 that established automatic release. The Labour Party was in power at the time.
“If you are convicted of a serious terrorist office, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years -- and some should never be released,” Johnson said in a statement Saturday. “Further, for all terrorism and extremist offenses the sentence announced by the judge must be the time actually services -- these criminals must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions.”
With voters set to go to the polls on Dec. 12, the Conservatives are using the revelation that the attacker was a former convicted terrorist to emphasize what they consider one of their stronger cards -- crime prevention.
Johnson, who has pushed for a tougher penal code for months, even indirectly linked Friday’s events to the fact that the latest Parliament blocked his minority administration’s attempts to drive through his Brexit deal.
“Due to the broken hung parliament that was preoccupied with blocking Brexit, we could not do more,” he said. “We need a government that can act.”
The U.K.’s main opposition party said that convicted terrorists should not necessarily serve out their full prison terms if they change their ways.
“I think it depends on the circumstances; it depends on the sentence, but crucially depends on what they’ve done in prison,” U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in an interview on “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” on the Sky network.
“Prisons ought to be a place where people are put away because of major serious offenses, but also a place where rehabilitation takes place,” he said.
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