Ministry of Justice officials worked through the weekend to review cases of around 70 convicted terrorists released under licence following the London Bridge attack that lead to the death of two people on Friday.
The department is reviewing the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison on licence after the attack, in which Usman Khan killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones.
Khan was convicted and imprisoned for his role in a failed plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange. He was initially sentenced to an eight-year jail term for public protection, at at the end of which he could only be released if the Parole Board for England and Wales judged he was no longer a threat.
However, in 2013, the Court of Appeal replaced the sentence with a 16-year fixed term, of which Khan should serve half in prison, and the other half under licence.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, said yesterday that 74 people has been similarly jailed for terror offences and released early, who were now having their licence conditions reviewed.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, justice secretary Robert Buckland confirmed MoJ officals had been reviewing all of these cases.
“It is combined approach, not just the Ministry of Justice but the police and security services are all working together,” he said. “My officials have been working over the weekend on the 70 or so cases of individuals who have been convicted of terror offences and released on licence.”
He said the department was working on “satisfying [itself] about the details and making sure that, first of all, any licence conditions are being complied with and if not, the individuals can be and will be recalled to prison". He said civil servants were also concened with "making sure that any licence conditions are as comprehensive as possible”.
Khan, who was killed by police after the attack, was attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference at Fishmongers' Hall in London Bridge on Friday, at which Merritt was a co-ordinator and Jones a volunteer.
Buckland said the MoJ had already issued an order “that events such as the one that was happening on Friday will not be attended by people on early release on licence".
“I’ll be meeting my officials this morning, to satisfy myself about [the monitoring of] not only those cases but also people who are about to be released, but also a wider groups who were not convicted of terrorism offences, but who present an extremist risk in the prison system,” he said.
An MoJ spokesperson told CSW that the department had drafted in extra staff over the weekend to review cases.
Also appearing on Today, former Parole Board chair Nick Hardwick argued that “cuts and reorganisations of the prisons and probation service have made them much less able to do their jobs and keep the rest of us safe”.
The government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme split the probation system in two in 2015, with 21 private Community Rehabilitation Companies monitoring medium and low-risk offenders. The National Probation Service retained oversight of high-risk offenders.
However, this reform is now being reversed.
Hardwick said: “We’ve neglected the criminal justice system and now the chickens are coming home to roost.”
He also urged parties to avoid “political point-scoring” after the attack, adding that politicising the deaths was “deeply disrespectful to the family and friends of the people who were killed”.