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Victims Could Increase Terrorists’ Sentences

Victims Could Increase Terrorists’ Sentences

Terrorists and those found guilty of assisting them could have their sentences increased in a new extension of the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.

Nine terror-related crimes are now being added to the scheme, which has so far been reserved for certain types of serious cases including murder, rape, robbery and the most serious terror offences.

The new regulations will mean that those found guilty of terror crimes, such as tipping off terrorists about a police investigation, could have their sentences increased if victims think their original punishments are not severe enough.

Under the scheme, terror-related cases can be reviewed and sent to the Court of Appeal, which will then determine whether the sentence should be kept as it is or increased.

The new guidelines will see that punishments given in cases where someone learns of terrorist activity through their employment, trade or profession, but who does not report such knowledge to the police, could also be re-examined.

The government says that providing the public with the right to demand longer sentences will act as a deterrent to terrorist activity and may also potentially disrupt plots involving some of the 3,000 suspects currently under surveillance by the MI5 and police.

Record number of sentences increased under ULS scheme

In 2017, a record number of 141 criminals had their sentences increased under the ULS initiative. However, the Ministry of Justice highlighted that the figure was only a small percentage of the 80,000 cases handled by the crown courts throughout the year.

While the majority of criminals do not have their sentences extended, more crime victims are making use of the scheme every year.

Figures published by the Attorney General’s Office indicate that the office received 837 requests for extended sentences under the ULS scheme in 2016 – a 17% rise on the number of requests made by victims in 2016.

In addition, the number of requested sentence extensions by victims has increased by over 108% since 2010, from 342 to 713 requests for the re-evaluation of sentences by the Attorney General’s Office in 2015.

Sentencing “is not an exact science”

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, has explained the merits of the scheme, which helps to ensure that victim’s voices are heard when it comes to sentencing decisions.

He said: “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.”

“A sentencing exercise is not an exact science. The scheme is available to ensure that the Solicitor General and I can independently review those cases where there may have been an error in the sentencing decision,” he said.

Dominic Raab, the justice minister, 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.”

ULS scheme overturns community sentences

In a number of reported cases, criminals have had their community sentences replaced with prison time through the public’s use of the ULS scheme. 2016 figures published by the Attorney General’s Office show that fourteen sex offenders originally given community service sentences by prosecutors had their sentences upgraded to time behind bars following requests from victims.

One attempted murderer and one serious sex offender also had their original prison sentences replaced with life sentences.

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