Monday 22 June 2020 4:35 pm

Reading attacks: Government undertaking 'biggest overhaul of terrorism laws in decades'

The government is currently undertaking the “biggest overhaul” of anti-terrorism laws in decades, Priti Patel said today, as the home secretary visited the site of a terror attack in Reading that took place over the weekend.

A 25-year-old man, named yesterday as Khairi Saadallah, is currently being detained under terrorism powers after the stabbings on Saturday night that left three people dead and several more in hospital.

The three victims have been named as English history teacher James Furlong, his American friend Joe Ritchie-Bennett, and David Wails.

Speaking in the House of Commons today following a visit to the crime scene, Patel said the government was “introducing much tougher penalties for terrorists to keep the public safe”, through the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill.

“This is the biggest overhaul of terrorist sentencing and monitoring in decades,” she told MPs. “Strengthening every stage of the process from introducing a 14-year minimum jail term for the most dangerous offenders to stricter monitoring measures.” 

It comes as security minister James Brokenshire today revealed that the UK’s counter-terrorism budget had received an additional £90m this year to bring the total annual budget to £900m. 

The additional funding comes as twenty-five terror plots have been foiled in the UK since the Westminster attack in 2017, Brokenshire told Sky News. 

The Reading stabbings marked the fourth terror-related incident in the UK in the six months since the UK lowered the terror threat level, posing questions over the government’s response. Priti Patel today said the UK must continue to be vigilant, with the terror threat level currently at “substantial”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds today said the government’s counter-terror measures have been insufficient, and called for more action to prevent further attacks. 

“Legislation alone is not enough. We need a comprehensive look at de-radicalisation in our prisons, how people who pose a threat are risk-assessed and how different agencies can work together to safeguard against tragedies in the future,” he said. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman this morning noted that the government brought in fresh legislation to stop the early release of terrorists in the immediate wake of the London Bridge attacks in 2017.

He added: “The Prime Minister has said that if there are any lessons to be learned, or if there are any changes that need to be made to stop such events from happening again, we will not hesitate to act to take that action.”

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