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Release of terrorism offenders needs to be managed says CT lead

AC Matt Jukes also says that unofficial Chinese police stations will not be tolerated

Parole Board reporting shows that on average a prisoner convicted of terrorism offences will be released at least once a week over the coming months, the head of CT policing has warned.

This year there is a potential that the Parole Board will consider the release of individuals who have committed very serious offences AC Matt Jukes added. Some of them will have served over a decade behind bars.

The Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) that houses CT policing and the intelligence services under one roof will be used to monitor these individuals.

As of September last year there were 239 people in custody for terrorism related offences.

“History has taught us to be wary of those individuals both in terms of their time in prison but also on release,” AC Jukes told a press conference at New Scotland Yard today. “ After tragic events we have doubled down on a form of lifetime offender management that you see in more traditional crime areas and is now in place not just in London but across the regions of England and Wales.”

That means in practice closer intelligence sharing between the intelligence community, CT policing prison and probation services.

“It’s critical that we have that to generate the full picture and understand risks,” he said. “It will be critical this year.”

The government has announced today that former police officers or experienced detectives must sit on serious case panels considered by the Parole Board.

AC Jukes said that CT policing provides real time information to the probation and parole systems in relation to the release of terrorism prisoners. “That will give a better understanding of individuals in terms of their behaviour before they were sentenced and their behaviour in prison which we know can be a threat,” he said,,

Increasingly he said terrorism prisoners released on licence are being returned to prison for breaches of those conditions which often relate to unauthorised access to the internet, for example.   

Last year was the first year since 2016 where nobody was killed or seriously injured in the UK through a terrorist attack.

Last year CT policing stopped eight late stage terror plots. AC Jukes said a number of those were close calls describing several of them as “goal line saves”  - cases in which a target had been identified and a suspect had already sourced or was in the process of acquiring a weapon.

The threat from Foreign states, chiefly Russia, China and Iran, has become an increasing concern he added. The number of cases focused on state threats has quadrupled within the last few years.

Kidnap and forced repatriation of state opponents are emerging threats. A dedicated unit working in conjunction with MI5 has been established to create a tougher operating environment for hostile state actors.

Part of that work is investigating reports from an international NGO that there are unofficial Chinese police stations established in the UK to watch dissident or émigré groups.

“I want to be absolutely clear that any attempt to intimidate, harass or harm individuals who are UK nationals won’t be tolerated,” he added.

He said at present there was no criminal evidence to identify these rogue police stations but added “that attempts to set up shop and act outside the conventions of international law enforcement will be stopped.”

He said CT policing has the resources to do that.   

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