Press release

Public can challenge more lenient terror sentences from today

From today (29 January), 9 further terror-related offences will fall within the scheme which allows the public to challenge sentences handed out by the courts.


Under changes to the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme, anyone found guilty of crimes such as tipping off terrorists about an investigation, or flouting terror prevention court orders, could see their sentences increased if victims or the public think the punishment is too light.

The move is the latest in a series of steps taken by Ministers to ensure that we have the most robust counter-terrorism powers possible, and that sentences reflect the devastating impact terrorism has on victims and communities.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart said:

People who assist terrorists or fail to alert authorities to terrorist activity must be severely punished.

These changes ensure victims can challenge sentences that don’t look right, and make sure that they have every opportunity to see justice delivered.

The scheme gives anyone the power to ask for a sentence to be reviewed by the Attorney General, who then decides whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.

In 2016, a record 141 criminals had their sentences increased, helping victims and their families get justice. This is a small proportion of the 80,000 Crown Court cases heard each year, where in the clear majority the judiciary get it right, but the ULS scheme is there to allow adjustment of those sentences where an increase is warranted.

The new crimes added today include instances where a person learns of terrorist activity through their trade, profession or employment, and fails to report this information to the police. For example, an accountant discovering a client may be funding terror. They also include offences related to breaching orders imposed to protect the public from terrorism, for instance someone suspected of involvement in terrorist activity overseas, who returns to the UK, in breach of travel restrictions.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP said:

Prosecutors and members of the public are now able to challenge the sentences of even more terrorism offences if they think they are too low.

Terrorist activity is a direct threat to our way of life. Those who commit these crimes must be brought to justice so that we can keep our communities safe.

Notes to editors

  • The ULS allows the Attorney General (AG) to review sentences given by the Crown Court in England and Wales.
  • The AG has 28 days to consider the sentence and make a decision whether to refer. If the AG decides to refer the case to the Court of Appeal to review the sentence, the court can decide whether the sentence should stay the same, or if it is unreasonably low, can increase it.
  • Last July, 19 terror offences were added to scheme, including encouraging terrorism and sharing terrorist propaganda.
  • From today the scheme will include a further 9 terror related offences. The new crimes involve failing to disclose information about offences relating to terrorist property, breaching terrorism-related orders, and offences to dangerous articles and making threats. In total, 27 people have been convicted for all of these offences up to the end of 2017.

Table of new offences in scope

Offence Description Max penalty (yrs)
Terrorism Act 2000 s19 Failure to disclose information on ‘terrorist property’- knowledge of which gained through their trade, profession or employment 5
Terrorism Act 2000 s21A Failure to disclose information on ‘terrorist property’- knowledge of which gained through work in the ‘regulated sector’ (e.g. financial business) 5
Terrorism Act 2000 s21D Tipping off a terrorist from information obtained in the regulated sector 2
Terrorism Act 2000 s39 Tipping off any person of a terrorist investigation 5
Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 s54 Failure to comply with notification 5
Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 s23 Failure to comply with a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure (TPIM) 5
Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 s10 Contravening a Temporary Exclusion Order (TEO) or not complying with restriction after return to the UK 5
Aviation Security Act 1982 s4 Offences related certain dangerous articles 7
Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 s114 Hoaxes involving noxious substances 7
Published 29 January 2018