Media caption Justice Secretary Robert Buckland: ” We face an unprecedented situation of severe gravity “
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, said such a reform “should be the subject of careful consideration to ensure that it complies with the rule of law”. The pressure group Liberty said it was “dangerous” and counter productive to apply the measures retrospectively.
However, the Parole Board for England and Wales welcomes the plans, saying “our over-riding priority is the protection of the public “.
Although plans for the Parole Board to decide if people convicted of terrorism offences should be released after serving two thirds of their sentence were in the Queen’s Speech, there were no proposals at that stage for the measures to apply retrospectively.
All that changed after the Streatham attack – the third incident involving convicted Islamic extremists in two months.
Ministers are clearly concerned about the risks posed by other prisoners serving sentences for terrorism who are due to be let out: there’s about one release, on average, every week.
But the measures, if approved by Parliament, will almost certainly be the subject of a challenge in the courts. Is it fair that a prisoner who’s been convicted and sentenced under one set of rules suddenly finds themselves locked up for longer under a different set of rules?
The government is likely to justify its approach on the grounds of national security, so prepare for an epic legal battle that may well end up at the Supreme Court.