Courts in England and Wales given new terrorism sentencing powers

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In England and Wales, terrorists face longer prison sentences under new sentencing guidelines

Terrorists face longer jail terms as courts in England and Wales gain powers to impose tougher sentences under new penal rules.

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The Sentencing Council guidance for judges and prosecutors, which goes into effect on October 1, will reflect increases in maximum sentences and other reforms introduced by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021.

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Terrorists face longer jail terms in England and Wales following new verdict (Photo: Adobe)

The maximum penalty should be increased

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The revisions include guidance on sentencing criminals who meet the criteria for a “serious terrorism conviction” when convicted of preparing terrorist acts and explosive substances.

This new verdict carries a minimum sentence of 14 years in prison, barring exceptional circumstances.

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The guidelines will also reflect changes in the law that will allow those prosecuted for “inciting terrorism” to go from seven to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

A prison sentence of 14 years can now be imposed on those who view or download material online to use in an act of terrorism, and there is an increase in the maximum sentence from 10 to 14 years for membership and support of terrorist offences.

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In addition, the guidelines on the financing of terrorist offenses now take into account the extent to which an offender knew that money or property would be or could be used for that purpose.

High Court Judge Maura McGowan, a member of the Sentencing Council, said: “Terrorist offenses are fortunately rare, but they are serious and can cover a wide range of factual circumstances, making them difficult and sensitive offenses to convict.

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“For this reason the Council has ensured that the guidelines are kept up to date and include additional guidance for convicts.

“These revised guidelines will ensure consistency and transparency in sentencing these crimes.”

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Justice Secretary Dominic Raab added: “These new guidelines will ensure penalties reflect the seriousness of crime and keep dangerous extremists off our streets longer.”

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