Fresh sentencing guidelines for courts in England and Wales will allow for much tougher punishments to be dealt out for terrorism cases.

The Sentencing Council guidance for magistrates and judges, which comes into force on October 1, will reflect increases in maximum penalties and other reforms introduced by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021.

The revisions include guidance on sentencing criminals who meet the criteria for a “serious terrorism sentence” if convicted of preparation of terrorist acts and explosive substances.

This new sentence will result in a minmum penalty of 14 years behind bars unless exceptional circumstances apply.

The Argus: Sentences will be heavily increased for certain terrorism-related offences (PA)Sentences will be heavily increased for certain terrorism-related offences (PA)

The guidelines will also reflect changes in the law allowing those prosecuted for the “encouragement of terrorism” to receive a maximum of 15 years in prison, up from seven.

Those who view or download online material to use for a terrorist act can now be handed up to 14 years in jail under the new guidance.

There is also an increase from 10 to 14 years maximum prison sentence for membership and support of terrorist causes offences.

Guidance on funding terrorism crimes will now consider the extent to which an offender knew money or property will or may be used for this purpose.

High Court judge Maura McGowan, a Sentencing Council member, said: “Terrorism offences are thankfully rare but they are serious and can cover a wide range of factual circumstances, making them difficult and sensitive offences to sentence. For this reason, the council has ensured that the guidelines are kept up to date and include additional guidance for sentencers.

“These revised guidelines will ensure consistency and transparency in the sentencing of these offences.”

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “These new guidelines will ensure sentences reflect the severity of the crime and keep dangerous extremists off our streets for longer.”