Johnson blames Labour for early release of London Bridge attacker

PM failed to explain why Conservatives had not changed system during time in power

UK prime minister Boris Johnson amde the comments while speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC Picture Publicity/Getty

UK prime minister Boris Johnson amde the comments while speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC Picture Publicity/Getty

 

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has blamed Labour for the early release of convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who murdered two people in a knife attack on London Bridge on Friday.

But Jeremy Corbyn said Conservative budget cuts to prison, mental health and parole services were responsible for missed chances to intervene to prevent such attacks.

“The reason this killer was out on the streets was because of automatic early release which was brought in by a leftie government,” Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Labour introduced legislation in 2003 that meant that most offenders would be released halfway through their sentences but they also introduced sentences with no fixed end called Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP). Khan was jailed in 2012 under an IPP, months before the Conservative-led government scrapped the system. An appeal the following year saw his indeterminate sentence replaced by one of 16 years, and he was freed after serving just under half of that time.

“I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years and that’s why we are going to change the law,” Mr Johnson said.

“His release was necessary under the law because of the automatic early release scheme under which he was sentenced, that was the reality, and that was brought in by Labour with the support of Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour party.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joins Labour activists in Whitby, England during a campaign rally on Sunday. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joins Labour activists in Whitby, England during a campaign rally on Sunday. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty

Mandatory life sentences

The prime minister failed to explain why the Conservatives had not changed the early release system during the past nine years but he is promising to introduce tougher sentences for terrorists which would mean that some could never be released.

Mr Corbyn rejected the idea of mandatory full life sentences, saying the question of releasing prisoners should depend on circumstances and what they do in prison.

“I think there has to be an examination of how our prison services work and crucially what happens to them on release from prison because I need to know whether or not the Parole Board were involved in his release, apparently they were not, they made that statement quite quickly after the release,” he told Sky News.

“Secondly, there was apparently no probation service involvement in monitoring this former prisoner who after all had only served half his sentence and he came out I think a year ago and there has to be an examination of what goes on in the prison because prisons ought to be a place where people are put away because of major serious offences but also a place where rehabilitation takes place.”

Half-privatised probation

Mr Corbyn said the prison service should be funded in such a way that would allow prison officers to act as educators as well as enforcing order.

He said there should be a proper psychological evaluation of prisoners’ suitability for release and whether they remain a danger to the public.

“Our probation service was half privatised, is not up to scratch, is not able to deal with the number of cases they have to deal with and a lot of prisoners are simply put on a tag, or ex-prisoners rather, put on a tag which if they breach clearly the police are alerted.

“Now in the case of this individual, he clearly was not in breach of the tag because he was at a conference that was a wholly legitimate place to be but something happened and he killed people at the conference and then himself was killed on the street,” he said.