Minimum UK prison sentences for some terrorism offences should be reviewed to make sure they are lengthy enough to provide a strong deterrent, Britain’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has said.
In an interview with the Press Association, Max Hill suggested the current penalties for offences such as failing to inform the authorities that a possible attack may be about to take place could be too lenient.
Those who fail to report the fact that an attack may be in the planning, such as relatives or friends of would-be terrorists who have learned of a plot, currently face a maximum jail term of just five years.
While maintaining there is no need for a fresh raft of terrorism legalisation in the wake of a series of attacks over the past few months, including three deadly atrocities in London and the Manchester Arena assault, Hill said it may be desirable to review current sentencing guidelines to establish whether they may need strengthening.
Highlighting section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000, which makes it a criminal offence for anybody who has knowledge of a potential terror attack not disclose the information they have to the authorities as soon as reasonably practicable, Hill said: “With the benefit of experience and hindsight it may be the case that some offences have insufficient discretionary maximum sentences, which should be reviewed.”
Defendants who assisted the Islamists behind a failed plot to bomb London’s transport system in 2015 were convicted under this law.
Speaking separately with the London Evening Standard, Hill said technology firms should use their vast resources to crackdown on the huge amounts of Islamist, far-right and other forms of terror propaganda that is posted online anonymously.
“A discussion I have had with some of the tech companies is whether it is possible to withhold encryption pending positive identification of the internet user,” Hill told the paper.
“If the technology would permit that sort of perusal, identification and verification, prior to posting that would form a very good solution… and would not involve wholesale infringement on free speech use of the internet. I’m talking about a nano-second.”
Hill’s comments emerged as a man from Warrington yesterday appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with supplying hundreds of Sim cards to jihadis in Syria and Iraq in what is thought to be the first case of its kind in the UK.
Thirty-two-year-old Rabar Mala stands accused of providing 437 Sim cards to Daesh so the group’s fighters could open Facebook and Twitter accounts to spread propaganda and target new recruits.
Mala, who denies possession of property for purposes of terrorism under Section 16 of the Terrorism Act 2000, was remanded in custody. He will appear at the Old Bailey on 21 September.