Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fear for Public Safety as 100 Extremists Are Freed from Jail; Lidl Sets Sights on 'Maidstone Mum'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fear for Public Safety as 100 Extremists Are Freed from Jail; Lidl Sets Sights on 'Maidstone Mum'

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

NEARLY 100 terrorist or extremist prisoners were freed from jail last year despite a record number of arrests by police trying to protect the country from attacks prompted by the conflict in Syria, official figures showed today. The statistics, published by the Home Office, show that 77 convicted offenders including 12 who had served prison terms of four years or more were released in the 12 month period to the end of March. Another 20 suspects who had been held on remand or in immigration detention were also released. That pushed the total number freed to a new high of 97. The figure, up 38 on the number released the previous year, will prompt concern about the burden being placed on police and MI5 in protecting the public from the potential risk posed by some of the freed convicts. A total of 262 terrorist or extremist prisoners, including four lifers and 91 given terms of four years or more, have been freed in the past six years. The Now more terror arrests than in aftermath of 7/7 surge of releases has come despite terror arrests rising to a record as counterterrorism officers battle to cope with the threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State and al Qaeda and a smaller, but still significant, rise in far- Right domestic extremism. Today's figures show that there were 299 terrorism-related arrests in the year to the end of March, 31 per cent up on the previous 12 months, and the highest since records began in September 2011. The highest previous arrest tally was in the year following the July 7 London bombings when there were 284. Just over three-quarters of those arrested were Britons. The rise was particularly stark among 18- to 20-year-olds.

The numbers detained in this age group more than doubled to 43 from 20 in the previous year. Eight under-18s were arrested, up two from the previous year taking the total of juveniles arrested by terror police since 2009 to 43. Responding to today's figures, security minister John Hayes declined to comment on the potential risk posed by freed offenders, but insisted that the rising tally of arrests highlighted the need to give police and the intelligence agencies updated powers to monitor suspects' communications. …

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