Minimum jail sentences for hate preachers who ‘encourage terrorism’ could double to ten years under new sentencing guidelines
- Sentencing Council will propose changes to guidelines after new anti-terror law
- Conviction for ‘collection of terrorist information’ will also have 10 year minimum
- Comes after Parliament passed a new anti-terror law earlier this year
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary in east London
Jail sentences for terrorists will be increased under new plans unveiled today.
The Sentencing Council will propose changes to its guidelines after Parliament passed a new anti-terror law earlier this year which allowed for longer terms of imprisonment.
Under the moves, the ‘starting point’ for judges when jailing someone for ‘encouragement of terrorism’ will double to ten years in the worst cases.
The range of jail terms for that offence will run from seven to 14 years, instead of four to six years.
A conviction for ‘collection of terrorist information’ will see the starting point increase from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment. The range increases from between five and nine years under current rules to between eight and 14.
‘Failure to disclose information about acts of terrorism’, such as when someone fails to report a friend or relative is involved in planning an atrocity, will also see tougher punishments.
The starting point will rise from four to seven years, while the upper end of the sentencing range will be nine years instead of four and a half years.
The Council, a statutory body which sets punishment levels to be followed by judges, said the changes were necessary after the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act received Royal Assent in February.
The starting point of a sentence is where a judge must begin before considering aggravating factors, which would lead to a longer term, or mitigating factors, which could lead to a discount.
Further changes announced today allow judges to sentence someone for ‘streaming’ terrorism material online, as previous laws focussed on possession of an electronic copy of a video or audio file.
Under the moves, the ‘starting point’ for judges when jailing someone for ‘encouragement of terrorism’ will double to ten years in the worst cases. Pictured: The Old Bailey
A spokesman said it was ‘intended to reflect the rapid changes to offending in the online world’.
Sentencing Council member Mr Justice Julian Goose said: ‘Terrorism offences are extremely serious and can cover a wide range of factual circumstances, making them difficult and sensitive offences to sentence.
‘For this reason, the Council is keen to ensure that the guidelines are kept up to date and fit for purpose.
‘These revised guidelines will ensure consistency and transparency in the sentencing of these offences.’
The consultation runs until December 3, with the sentencing changes due to take effect early next year.