Nine further terror-related offences will be added to the scheme which allows the public to challenge sentences handed out by the courts.
Changes to the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme mean that people found guilty of crimes such as tipping off terrorists about an investigation, or flouting terror prevention court orders, could see their sentences increased if victims or the public think the punishment is too light.
The plans announced today (29 December 2017) follow an extension in July which added 19 terror offences to the scheme, with Ministers acting to ensure sentences reflect the devastating impact terrorism has on victims and communities.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab said:
“We keep counter-terrorism powers under constant review. These changes will strengthen our ability to punish and deter those who tip off individuals involved in terrorism, and reinforce the conditions imposed by the authorities on individuals subject to monitoring, supervision or control.”
The scheme gives anyone the power to ask the Attorney General to review a sentence, who can then decide to refer a case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.
In 2016, a record 141 criminals had their sentences increased, helping victims and their families get justice. This is a small proportion of the 80,000 Crown Court cases heard each year, where in the clear majority the judiciary get it right, but the ULS scheme is there to allow adjustment of those sentences where an increase is warranted.
The new crimes announced today include instances where a person learns of terrorist activity through their trade, profession or employment, and fails to report this information to the police. For example, an accountant discovering a client may be funding terror. They also include offences related to breaching orders imposed to protect the public from terrorism, for instance someone suspected of involvement in terrorist activity overseas, who returns to the UK, in breach of travel restrictions.
The decision to add 9 further terror offences builds on a manifesto pledge to widen the scheme. Next month will see the first case referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General, made possible through the expansion in July.
Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said:
“The Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme added over 400 years of imprisonment to criminal sentences last year.
“While in the vast majority of cases sentencing judges get it right, the ULS scheme gives anyone the ability to challenge sentences within the scheme they think are too low and I’m pleased that more offences will now be included.”