20 October 2021
Terrorism offences: Consultation
A consultation paper on the sentencing of terrorism offences. Closed 11 January 2022.
What was this consultation about?
Parliament has introduced new legislation to ensure that the law can continue to deal adequately with the changing nature of terrorism offences. The Council is proposing revisions to existing sentencing guidelines to reflect the new legislation and make sure that the courts have comprehensive and up-to-date guidance for sentencing terrorism cases.
Which offences and guidelines are covered?
The proposals can be summarised as follows:
Following the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021, the Council is proposing a series of amendments to four existing sentencing guidelines to bring them into line with the new legislation:
- Preparation of terrorist acts (Terrorism Act 2006, section 5)
- Explosive substances (terrorism only) (Explosive Substances Act 1883, section 2 and section 3)
- Proscribed organisations – membership (Terrorism Act 2000, section 11)
- Proscribed organisations – support (Terrorism Act 2000, section 12)
The Council sought views on:
- the addition of guidance for judges sentencing offenders who meet the criteria for a ‘serious terrorism sentence’. This is a new type of sentence that carries a minimum penalty of 14 years’ custody unless exceptional circumstances apply;
- the addition of new guidance and principles for judges to follow when considering whether there may be exceptional circumstances that justify a departure from that sentence;
- changes to the Membership and Support guidelines, which include increases to sentence levels. This change is necessary as the statutory maximum sentence for both offences has increased from 10 to 14 years; and
- the addition of guidance to the Preparation of terrorist acts and Explosive substances (terrorism only) guidelines to assist judges sentencing cases which include the involvement of law enforcement authorities, where culpability will be assessed as if the law enforcement officer was a genuine conspirator and harm based on the harm that the offender intended and the viability of the plan. (This change is unrelated to the new Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021).