The Sentencing Council has today published new proposals for how individuals convicted of terror offences in England & Wales should be sentenced and suggest that lengthier sentences should be imposed for attacks involving vehicles and knives. Those who use encrypted messages to avoid detection are also targeted in the proposals.
This is the first comprehensive guidance produced to assist Judges in dealing with offenders falling to be sentences for a number of offences contrary to the Explosive Substances Act 1883 and Terrorism Act 2000.
In a press release issued by the sentencing council they said
“The introduction of guidelines will therefore be particularly useful in assisting judges to reach appropriate sentences and lead to greater transparency and consistency in the sentencing of these very serious and difficult cases. “
The proposed new guidelines are set to replace the guidance issued by the Court of Appeal last year in the case of Kahar and others as the Council believe that;
“updated guidance is required and that it is broadened into a comprehensive package of guidelines to cover a wider number of offences.”
Work began on the guidelines before the terrorist attacks earlier this year but now include offences which involve far less sophisticated methods than have been used previously such as the use of motor vehicles or knives which require a change from the more sophisticated types of cases that were considered by the Court of Appeal when putting together its guidance. In addition, the guidance also proposes to deal with the growing concern about the availability of extremist material online and self radicalisation.
Sentences set to increase
The changes proposed suggest that sentence lengths be increased for lower level offences for example where an offender simply offers a small amount of assistance to others or where preparations for an attack are not well advanced as it is felt by the council that offences involving knives or vehicles can be planned in a very short time and are more serious than previously thought. Those types of sentences are set to increase from between 21 months to five years to between three and six years.
Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy said: “We want to ensure that courts have comprehensive guidance for dealing with these extremely serious cases. Offences vary greatly and could include someone who tries to make a bomb, another who urges others to join a terrorist organisation or a group plotting a murderous attack on the public. Our proposed guidelines set out a clear approach to dealing with this wide range of offences to ensure appropriate sentences are passed to punish offenders and disrupt their activities. Our proposed guidelines are now subject to a public consultation to which anyone can respond.”
The consultation on the guidelines will last six weeks and seeks views on a variety of issues, such as the sentences that should be passed and the approach taken to structuring the draft guidelines.
Offences the new guidelines will cover
A final set of guidelines will be produced and is expected to come into force in courts in spring 2018 and will apply to all offenders over the age of 18 covering following offences:
- Section 5 (Preparation of Terrorist Acts) Terrorism Act 2006
- Section 2 (Causing explosion likely to endanger life or property) Explosive Substances Act 1883
- Section 3 (Attempt to cause explosion, or making or keeping explosive with intent to endanger life or property) Explosive Substances Act 1883
- Section 1 (Encouragement of Terrorism) Terrorism Act 2006
- Section 2 (Dissemination of Terrorist Publication) Terrorism Act 2006
- Section11 (Membership of proscribed organisation) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 12 Support for a proscribed organisation) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 15 (Fundraising) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 16 (Use and Possession) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 17 (Funding Arrangements) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 18 (Money Laundering) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 38B (Information about Acts of Terrorism) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 57 (Possession for Terrorist Purposes) Terrorism Act 2000
- Section 58 (Collection of Terrorist Information) Terrorism Act 2000
Take part and have your say
Anybody can take part in the consultation and provide views on:
- the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guideline more or less serious;
- the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
- the approach taken to structuring the draft guidelines;
- the sentences that should be passed for terrorist offences; and
- anything else that you think should be considered.
The terms of the consultation are available here and the proposed guidelines are available here
You can provide you views, by completing a questionnaire online and respond to the consultation here