Government ‘warned of risk’ of terrorists released from prison

The Government was repeatedly warned of the risk posed by convicted terrorists being released from prison while still radicalised, a former chief crown prosecutor has said.

Boris Johnson said the "system simply isn't working" after Usman Khan, 28, killed two people and injured three others in a knife rampage before being shot dead on London Bridge on Friday.

The convicted terrorist had been automatically freed from prison on licence in December 2018, having served half his 16-year sentence.

Speaking at the scene on Saturday, Mr Johnson said: "I've argued that when people are sentenced to a certain number of years in prison they should serve every year of that sentence."

He added: "I've said for a long time that I think that the practice of automatic early release – where you cut a sentence in half and let really serious violent offenders out early – simply isn't working.

"And I think you have good evidence of how that isn't working, I'm afraid, with this case."

Asked if he could reassure the public that they are safe if other convicted terrorists are out on licence, Mr Johnson said: "Well I can tell you that we've had a long discussion already today about all those cases and a great deal of work is being done right now to make sure that the public is protected."

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London Bridge terror incident
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London Bridge terror incident
Jack Merritt's mother Anne (far left), girlfriend Leanne O'Brien (centre) and father David (second right) during a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge to honour both him and Saskia Jones after the two of them were killed in Friday's London Bridge terror attack.
Jack Merrit's father (centre) attends a vigil at The Guildhall in Cambridge to honour both him and Saskia Jones after they were killed in Friday's London Bridge terror attack.
People at a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
(left to right) Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn take part in a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Tributes to Cambridge University graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, on London Bridge, who were both stabbed to death by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting in London on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday December 2, 2019. The father of London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt has said his son would be "livid" that his death is being used to further an "agenda of hate". See PA story POLICE LondonBridge . Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Second former Cambridge University student killed at London Bridge named
Second former Cambridge University student killed at London Bridge named
Review under way after Cambridge alumni confirmed as London attack victims
A photograph of the first victim to be named, Jack Merritt, is pictured among floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. - Britain's Boris Johnson said on December 1 the security services were stepping up monitoring of convicted terrorists released early from prison, as the London Bridge attack became embroiled in the election campaign. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers stand inside a cordon beside floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. - Britain's Boris Johnson said on December 1 the security services were stepping up monitoring of convicted terrorists released early from prison, as the London Bridge attack became embroiled in the election campaign. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Floral tributes for victims of the terrorist attack, including Jack Merritt, left on London Bridge in central London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Floral tributes for victims of the terrorist attack, including Jack Merritt, left on London Bridge in central London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 1, 2019. See PA story POLICE LondonBridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic personnel on London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu speaks to the media at New Scotland Yard in Westminster, London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick (centre left), Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (centre right) and Commissioner of the City of London Police, Ian Dyson (right) on London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, and was shot dead by police.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Commissioner of the City of London Police Ian Dyson, as he attends London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Home Secretary, Priti Patel (right) attend London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick (left), Home Secretary, Priti Patel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Commissioner of the City of London Police, Ian Dyson (right) attend the London Bridge crime scene in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends the London Bridge crime scene in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People fleeing from Borough Market, central London following a police incident.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
A police officer moves an uninvolved person away from a cordon after an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People running away from Borough Market in London after police to them to leave the area.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People are evacuated from London Bridge in central London following a police incident.
A member of the police, outside a newsagent, in the vicinity of Borough Market and London Bridge.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from London Bridge and Borough Market, London.
An armed police officer outside Borough Market after an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from London Bridge and Borough Market, London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from Borough Market, London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
A white lorry parked across London bridge in central London following a 'terror related' incident.
A police boat on the River Thames near London bridge following a 'terror related' incident.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Gracechurch Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Office workers watching police near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
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A Guardian analysis of figures compiled by the Sentencing Council published in June last year showed police and security forces faced a surge in the number of terrorists being released from prison.

It said more than 80 of the 193 terms issued for terrorism offences between 2007 and 2016 would have been served by the end of 2018.

Nazir Afzal, who was chief prosecutor in North West England between 2011 and 2015, said the Government was repeatedly warned about the threat.

He said he raised the issue in a private conversation with Mr Johnson three years before he became Prime Minister – but was told there was no money.

"The problem of those convicted for terrorist-related offences being released from prison whilst ostensibly rehabilitated but still radicalised was one that many of us raised in meetings with this Government over the past few years," he said.

He said he spoke to the PM on June 30 2016 at a 50th anniversary function at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, west London, which Mr Johnson was attending as the local MP.

Mr Afzal said: "He asked me what keeps me awake at night and I told him it was this issue. When he wanted to know what to do about it, I told him it was more resources for one-to-one deradicalisation.

"Back then, he hadn't found the 'money tree' so he frustratingly said there was no money."

In August, Boris Johnson ordered an urgent review of sentencing policy, saying that dangerous criminals must be taken off the streets and punishments "truly fit the crime" if the public was to have confidence in the justice system.

The sentencing review was instructed to start work immediately and to report back to No 10 in the autumn.

Downing Street has confirmed that advice was submitted to the Prime Minister in October, which led to the Sentencing Bill being announced in the Queen's Speech.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said this has been delayed due to the election, and future decisions will be a matter for the next government.

The advice was internal and has not been published, she added.

Chris Phillips, a former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said: "We're letting people out of prison, we're convicting people for very, very serious offences and then they are releasing them back into society when they are still radicalised.

"So how on Earth can we ever ask our police services and our security services to keep us safe?

"I've said it a few times today, we're playing Russian roulette with people's lives, letting convicted, known, radicalised Jihadi criminals walk about our streets."

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