Government response to independent review of terrorist supervision

Ministry of Justice written statement – made on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

In November last year, Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist being supervised in the community on licence and managed under the statutory Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), attacked and killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge. This was a terrible atrocity that understandably aroused significant public concern, and as part of our response to it, my Right Honourable Friend the Home Secretary and I commissioned a review in to the effectiveness of MAPPA in the management of terrorist and other extremist offenders. We appointed Jonathan Hall QC, the Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, to undertake the review.

In his report, Jonathan Hall found that MAPPA is a well-established process and did not conclude that wholesale change is necessary. However, he made important recommendations to enhance the statutory agencies’ capabilities in managing terrorist offenders under MAPPA. We published his report on 2 September and indicated that we would in due course provide him with a formal response to his recommendations. I can tell the House that the Home Secretary and I have today written to Jonathan Hall, setting out how we are implementing the key changes which he recommended.

I have placed a copy of our letter in the Library of the House.

The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill is introducing a number of changes which Jonathan Hall subsequently recommended, including giving judges the power to define crimes as terror-related, even if not terror offences as set out in law, and requiring high-risk terrorist offenders to undergo polygraph tests while on licence. We will legislate next year to introduce further powers for the police and probation service in line with Jonathan Hall’s recommendations.

The creation of a new National Security Division in the National Probation Service will mean there are twice as many probation staff dedicated to the supervision of terrorism-risk offenders and strengthen its work with police, prisons and the security services.

Keeping our communities safe is the Government’s first priority and we have made considerable investment in counter-terrorism. Our security services, police, prison and probation officers epitomise public duty and we hope that these new powers and ways of working will help them to further improve the tremendous, challenging work they do.

Recent atrocities in France and Austria have shown us that continued vigilance is needed to protect the United Kingdom from the scourge of terrorism and extremism. We believe that implementing agreed recommendations from Jonathan’s report will, alongside improvements already in progress by Counter Terrorism Police and the National Probation Service, strengthen the supervision of these dangerous offenders and give the statutory agencies the tools which they need to defeat those who threaten us and our way of life.