Serious terrorism sentence for adults aged under 21: England and Wales

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice) 2:45 pm, 30th June 2020

Indeed, that is very much the case. I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because he reminds me of some evidence we heard this morning about young people being more susceptible to being radicalised. Another important point raised this morning was that our prison system is not yet properly equipped to deal with young offenders in a suitable environment that prevents radicalisation. They are housed—wherever they are—with people who have committed similar offences, who will be aiming to build on their insecurities and their immaturity to encourage them into further wrongdoing. We must never lose sight of that important point. That is why I will talk about young people throughout our proceedings on the Bill, because young people have to be given a chance.

I will talk about this later, but if a 20-year-old is sentenced to14 years in prison, that will make them 34 on their release. Add another 25 years to that, and they are almost pensioners before they are clear of the shackles of the state. They have not been given the opportunity to reform, because they are constantly looking over their shoulder, perhaps with an attitude of, “Why on earth should I change when the authorities are always on my back?”