London Bridge attack prompts raids, review of prison laws

Updated on Nov 30, 2019 07:46 PM IST
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited the scene of the attack, said he wanted to “toughen up sentences” so that those convicted of terrorism offences are not released early.
A police cordon around the area of London Bridge, in London on Saturday.(AP)
A police cordon around the area of London Bridge, in London on Saturday.(AP)
Hindustan Times, London | By

Raids were conducted in Stafford in the west Midlands on Saturday with growing demands to review laws governing release of prisoners. The demands raised by people come within 24 hours of killing of two by convicted terrorist Usman Khan before being shot dead on London Bridge on Friday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited the scene of the attack, said he wanted to “toughen up sentences” so that those convicted of terrorism offences are not released early. Khan, 28, was released on licence in December 2018, wearing an electronic tag.

Flags flew at half-mast across the UK as the Parole Board said it had no involvement with Khan’s release, who was released automatically on licence (as required by law), without being referred to the board. He was convicted and sentenced to jail in 2012.

Khan was reportedly attending a University of Cambridge conference on prisoner rehabilitation near London Bridge, called ‘Learning Together’. His actions prompted much concern in the university and Cambridge, where election campaigning has been suspended.

Stephen J Toope, Cambridge vice-chancellor, said: “I am devastated to learn that today’s hateful attack on London Bridge may have been targeted at staff, students and alumni attending an event organised by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology”.

“We are in touch with the Metropolitan Police, and awaiting further details of the victims. We mourn the dead and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured. Our thoughts are with all their families and friends.”

It emerged that Khan wrote a letter in 2012 from the Belmarsh prison, seeking to go on a deradicalisation course, so that he could reform and become “a goof British citizen”.

He wrote: “I would like to do such a course so I can prove to the authorities, my family and society (sic) in general that I don’t carry the views I had before my arrest and also I can prove that at the time I was immature, and now I am much more mature and want to live my life as a good Muslim and also a good citizen of Britain”.

Queen Elizabeth led many tributes to the police and members of the public who restrained Khan. She said in a statement: “Prince Philip and I have been saddened to hear of the terror attacks at London Bridge. We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday’s terrible violence”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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