London Bridge: Lie detector tests for terrorists following November attack, says Government

Josh Salisbury (21 January, 2020)

The measure is part of a package due to be introduced in a new bill, said the Government

33647People lay flowers at London Bridge for the victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

Lie detector tests will be introduced for terrorists out on license after November’s attack on London Bridge, the Government announced today.

The tests would be used to quiz terrorists about whether they have reformed or are planning another attack.

It comes as part of a package of measures in a new bill to “strengthen the UK’s response” to terrorism after Usman Khan’s knife attack at Fishmonger’s Hall.

Khan was out on licence when he launched his stabbing rampage, which killed both Jack Meritt and Saskia Jones.

Left: Victim Jack Merritt and right: Saskia Jones

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the attack had forced “hard truths” on the authorities about how terrorist offenders were dealt with.

She said that the government was “giving police and probation officers the resources they need to investigate and track offenders, introducing tougher sentences, and launching major reviews into how offenders are managed after they are released.

“We will also review the support available for victims and their families to make sure they receive the help they need.”

However, David Merritt, the father of one of the victims of November’s attack, said the announcement was a “cynical, headline-grabbing gimmick to distract our attention.”

Mr Merritt has previously said his son, Jack, who had advocated for criminal justice reform, would not want “more draconian” sentences in the wake of the tragedy.

Meaures pledged in the bill, which will be introduced by mid-March, include:

  • Automatic early release from prison to be scrapped, and those convicted of serious terror offences to serve a minimum of fourteen years behind bars
  • Doubling the number of specialist counter-terrorism probation officers
  • Increase in funding of £90m from 2020-21 for counter-terror policing
  • Increase in psychologists and specially-trained imams to challenge beliefs of radicalised offenders
  • A review into how terror offenders are managed, led by Johnathan Hill QC.

Following concerns about the accuracy of the tests, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC told BBC Breakfast: “Lie detectors have already been introduced in assessing the risk posed to the public by sex offenders.”

He insisted: “This is not a new concept. I think it is a sensible measure in order to help maximise the understanding of the risks that some of these prisoners pose to society.”

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