The Sentencing Council proposed to increase sentence levels for “the most serious examples of offending”, adding that increased maximum penalties “better reflect the seriousness of these offences.”
The review of guidance has been unveiled today in light of “significant legislative changes” brought in under the new Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which increased maximum sentences for some crimes.
The council said the revised guidelines could be introduced in early 2020 and apply to offenders aged 18 and over, with the proposals including “increased sentencing levels” for some crimes to reflect the new law.
Offences which could be affected under the new sentencing laws include encouragement of terrorism, the failure to disclose information about acts of terrorism and the collection of terrorist information.
The council recommends that minimum jail time for those found guilty of encouraging terrorism would double from five to 10 years.
The report said: “The council considers that this is a very serious offence and warrants a significant sentence.”
Under the new laws, the maximum sentence for collection of terrorist information was increased from 10 to 15 years.
The council is proposing increasing sentencing levels in cases where an offender was in possession of material which provided instruction for a specific terrorist activity which could endanger life and harm is “very likely to be caused”.
Judges could set custody starting points of 10 years.
Crimes of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism, which has seen the maximum sentence rise to 10 years, could see starting points for jail time increased to seven years under the new guidelines.
Council member Mr Justice Julian Goose said: “Terrorism offences are extremely serious and can cover a wide range of factual circumstances, making them difficult and sensitive offences to sentence.
“For this reason, the council is keen to ensure that the guidelines are kept up to date and fit for purpose.
“These revised guidelines will ensure consistency and transparency in the sentencing of these offences.”
The consultation is open until December and is seeking responses from judges, magistrates and others working in the criminal justice system, as well as the general public.
Justice minister Chris Philp said: “Terrorism has a devastating impact on society and it is vital punishments properly fit the crime and we protect the public.
“These guidelines will give judges clear and consistent guidance when sentencing offenders so we keep pace with the changing nature of these crimes.”