The Prime Minister spoke out amid growing outrage over the early release from prison of Usman Khan, whose rampage on Friday came after he served less than half his sentence for terror offences.
Mr Johnson, who visited the scene of the attacks with Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday, said if the electorate returned him with a majority, he would take advantage of the UK’s post-Brexit freedoms to reform the human rights laws.
The Ministry of Justice last night launched an investigation into the licence conditions of up to 70 violent terrorists who have been released from prison.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday toured the scene of the London Bridge terror attack along with Home Secretary Priti Patel, who received a briefing from the Met Police’s Commissioner Cressida Dick, left. Mr Johnson was accompanied by City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson
He said the laws made it more difficult for the security services to protect the public and blamed the last Labour Government for introducing automatic early release in 2008. Mr Johnson complained that his efforts to ‘keep violent offenders and terrorists in jail longer and end the automatic early release system’ since becoming Prime Minister had been thwarted by ‘the broken hung parliament that was preoccupied with blocking Brexit’.
He said: ‘What I saw on Friday has made me angry – it’s absolutely clear that we can’t carry on with the failed approaches of the past.
‘We must reform human rights laws to shift the balance in favour of our security and intelligence services… our laws are constrained, for example, by the “right to private life” which limits surveillance of terrorists, and recent court cases have placed unacceptable limits on our intelligence services.’
Mr Johnson said he was outraged London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan, pictured, had been released early from prison
Tory aides are scarred by the memory of the 2017 London Bridge terror attack, which led to the suspension of the Election campaign – and gave Mr Corbyn the chance to close the gap on Theresa May.
For this campaign, Mr Johnson has no compunction about characterising Mr Corbyn as a risk to the safety of the British public.
The Prime Minister said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is setting out plans to weaken our system and make it more difficult for our security services to stop people who want to do us harm. He wants to give more power to human rights lawyers, which would make us less safe.
‘Jeremy Corbyn has a totally different view of security and a totally different set of policies. I do not believe he can provide the leadership on security this country needs.’ Mr Johnson and Ms Patel were joined by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick on London Bridge yesterday.
The Prime Minister told journalists: ‘It’s early days and there’s a lot of investigations that need to be done, but it is clear… it does not make sense for us as a society to be putting people convicted of terrorist offences, of serious violent offences, out on early release.’
Tory strategists intend to use the coming days to highlight the differences between the Labour manifesto, which pledges to ‘ensure the powers exercised by the security services are proportionate and used in accordance with human rights’ and ‘end indefinite detention’, with Mr Johnson’s plans to ‘update the Human Rights Act so that our security services can defend our country against terrorism’.
The Tory manifesto states: ‘The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical.
‘We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government’.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is setting out plans to weaken our system and make it more difficult for our security services to stop people who want to do us harm. He wants to give more power to human rights lawyers, which would make us less safe’
Ms Patel blamed Labour for the fact that Khan – who was jailed for terror offences in 2012 – had been released on licence in December 2018 after his initial sentence was reduced on appeal.
After Labour’s Yvette Cooper asked on Twitter why Khan was released early, Ms Patel replied: ‘Because legislation brought in by your government in 2008 meant that dangerous terrorists had to automatically be released after half of their jail term.
‘The Conservatives changed the law in 2012 to end your automatic release policy but Khan was convicted before this.’
The Parole Board said it had no involvement in his release, with Khan appearing ‘to have been released automatically on licence (as required by law)’. Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said last night that Khan had been subject to an ‘extensive list of licence conditions’ on his release and that ‘to the best of my knowledge’ he was complying.
Mr Corbyn concentrated yesterday on what he said appeared to be the failure of the prison service. ‘Was he [Khan] given a de-radicalisation programme?’ the Labour leader asked. ‘If prisons continue to be understaffed, overcrowded and with a lot of prisoners not being properly supervised, then I think there is a danger to everybody in the future.’