We will not let terrorists and extremists divide our nation, and we will not be cowed by their inhumane actions. I am so proud of the way the British people bravely come together in the face of an attack to show beyond any doubt that terrorism will never defeat the British spirit and sense of unity, community, inclusivity and compassion.
I know that our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies are working constantly to keep the people of this country safe and secure. The Government has said it is taking all necessary steps, including through the new National Security Bill, to make sure they have the powers, the capabilities and resources they need.
It is also the case that the Government is updating the UK's counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) which will protect the public from new and emerging threats to our way of life. It is expected that the updated version of CONTEST will published later this year. This is in recognition of the fact that there has been a shift towards self-initiated terrorists operating independently from organised groups with increasingly personal ideologies and warped views used to justify violence.
Separately, the Government has introduced several key pieces of legislation to combat the threat posed by terrorists in the UK. Following the attack in Streatham in February 2020, the Government introduced and passed emergency legislation into law to ensure that terrorist offenders, including those currently serving, will no longer be released early automatically. This means that the earliest point at which terrorist offenders will be considered for release is after they have served two-thirds of their sentence. Indeed, no terrorist offender will be released before the end of the full custodial term unless the Parole Board agrees.
This swift action was only the first stage of the Government's legislative response. The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act further strengthens the approach taken to the sentencing and release of terrorist offenders. The Act ensures serious and dangerous terrorist offenders spend longer in custody and improves the ability to monitor and manage those of concern when they are released.
New powers introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act halt the automatic release of offenders who pose a terrorist threat or a danger to the public that has become apparent after their initial sentence was imposed. This means the Parole Board will have an opportunity to assess the risk these offenders pose prior to their release. In addition, the Act introduces Whole Life Orders for child killers and measures to allow judges to hand out this maximum punishment to 18-20-year olds in exceptional cases to reflect the gravity of a crime. This would include acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life.
In recognition of the lack of legislative requirement for organisations and venues to consider or employ security measures at the vast majority of public places, the Government recently concluded the Public Duty consultation seeking views from private and public sector partners on a possible requirement to implement security measures at certain locations. In line with the majority of the 2,755 responses received, the Government has announced a new draft Protect Duty Bill which seeks to introduce new requirements for certain public locations and venues to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks.
It is the case that terrorism and the vile ideology motivating individuals to carry out acts of terror must be tackled online too. As part of legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online (through the Online Safety Bill), Ministers will ensure that there is no safe hiding space place for terrorists in digital spaces.