Terror plotters could be jailed for up six years

Terror plotters could be jailed for six years even if they do not carry out an attack under tough new sentencing guidelines published today.

The new advice has been drawn up to combat the changing threat of extremism which has seen jihadis radicalised online and quickly escalate their deadly plans.

Rather than plot in large groups, these jihadis quickly and quietly come up with plans to use a knife or a car to murder people – like in the Westminster attack this year.

Judges are being issued with fresh advice to encourage them to hand out longer jail terms to stop plotters before they can strike on Britain’s streets.

While using encrypted services like Whatsapp to draw up deadly plans can be seen as an ‘aggravating factor’ under the new guidelines.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the new guidelines ‘will help ensure we have the most rigorous and robust sentencing in terrorism cases’. 

The Council is proposing the sentencing range for the lowest level crimes is set at three to six years – higher than the current 21 months to five years.  

The tougher sentencing advice has been fast tracked in the wake of the deadly wave of terror attacks which have been carried out on Britain’s street this year. 

Hate preacher Anjem Choudhary – who was finally jailed for five and a half years last year for urging the support of terror group Isis – has been blamed for radicalising many Brits who went on t become terror plotters. Under new sentencing guidelines, those who plot crimes and do not carry them out face tougher sentences 

Five attacks have been carried out in London and Manchester, killing dozens and injuring hundreds more. 

The advice also aims to take account of the risk of ‘self-radicalisation’ through extremist content online. 

The Sentencing Council today published a draft of the first comprehensive guidance for a host of terrorism offences in England and Wales. 

The main change applies to offences under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006, which covers the preparation of terrorism..

Last year, the Court of Appeal issued guidance for sentences imposed under the section, which can be used to prosecute individuals who plan terrorist acts or those who help others in the plotting.

The existing guidance has worked effectively to now, but the ‘changing nature of offending’ means it needs to be reconsidered, according to the Council.

It noted a trend for ‘less sophisticated’ methods, as opposed to ‘big plot’ cases involving bomb-building, cells of several members and months or years of planning.

Offenders are ‘taking less time to prepare, and their acts are less sophisticated but are equally as deadly’, a consultation document setting out the plans says.

It adds: ‘Offenders are more frequently using knives and vehicles as weapons, which are readily available so involve limited or no preparation to obtain.’

The new guidelines will keep the same maximum sentence of life with a minimum term of 40 years.

But the plans are expected to see punishments increase for cases at the bottom end of the scale. 

Cases that could fall into this category include those where preparations are not well developed, or where an offender offers a small amount of assistance to others.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the new guidelines 'will help ensure we have the most rigorous and robust sentencing in terrorism cases' (file pic)

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the new guidelines ‘will help ensure we have the most rigorous and robust sentencing in terrorism cases’ (file pic)

The Council said it determined that ‘when considering these actions in the current climate, where a terrorist act could be planned in a very short time, using readily available items as weapons, combined with online extremist material on websites which normalise terrorist activity, and create a climate where acts of terrorism can be committed by many rather than a few highly-organised individuals, these offences are more serious than they have previously been perceived’. 

Ninety adult offenders were sentenced for section 5 offences between 2006 and 2016, with 81 given immediate prison terms. The average sentence length was eight years and five months.

Other offences covered by the new guidelines include collecting or sharing extremist material, raising funds for terrorism, glorifying terrorist acts and joining or supporting a banned organisation.

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.’

Terrorism sentences are being examined under a review launched by the Government earlier this year.

The Council’s proposals, which will be subject to a six-week consultation, reflect the position under existing legislation but could be adjusted to take account of any future changes to maximum sentence levels allowed by law. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk