Streatham attack: Bill stopping early release of jailed terrorists passes unopposed in Commons

Former PM Theresa May urges more attention on rehabilitation, warning: ‘Terrorist offenders will still be released at some point’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 12 February 2020 19:08 GMT
Police forensic officers on Streatham High Road in south London after Sudesh Amman stabbed two bystanders
Police forensic officers on Streatham High Road in south London after Sudesh Amman stabbed two bystanders (AFP)

Boris Johnson’s emergency legislation preventing automatic early release for terrorists halfway through their prison sentences has cleared all its stages in the Commons without a vote.

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill passed unopposed as ministers rushed to get the legislation on the statue book by 27 February – just days before the next terrorist offender comes up for release.

But Theresa May, who dealt with multiple terrorist attacks in the UK as prime minister, said that while the government is “right” to be addressing the issue of early release, “terrorist offenders will still be released at some point”.

"That is why the issue of rehabilitation, the work that is done both in prison and when they are out of prison is so important," she told MPs in the Commons.

“There have been many efforts of this over the years but as recent incidents have seen, that has not always been with success.”

It follows the terror attack in Streatham earlier this month when Sudesh Amman stabbed two bystanders just days after he was released midway through his sentence for possessing and distributing terrorist documents.

The attack by Amman, 20, was the second to be carried out in three months by a released terrorist in Britain, after Usman Khan killed two people near London Bridge in late 2019. He had been released halfway through a 16-year jail sentence.

The Bill will now go through to the House of Lords where peers will debate and vote on the legislation before it can be given Royal Assent and passed into law.

The Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, also raised concerns over the speed at which the legislation is being progressed.

She said: “It’s right that we do so in these circumstances but the government must also recognise that it is not the ideal circumstances and to rush through legislation in a breathless way and to be honest, actually there have been many warnings that this was coming down the track.

“The government has known about the problem for some time.”

MPs also raised concern about radicalisation in prisons, after a convicted terrorist and another inmate wearing suicide vests allegedly launched an attack on officers inside HMP Whitemoor last month.

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