The government wants to move swiftly in its review of sentencing for violent crimes after the London bridge attack, the security minister, Brandon Lewis, has said.
On Friday, a man and a woman were killed by an Islamist extremist who had been released on licence from jail where he had served time for an al-Qaida-inspired bomb plot.
The Metropolitan police are investigating how Usman Khan, 28, was able to commit the attack near London Bridge, despite being known to the authorities and fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements.
Khan was sentenced in 2012 for his part in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 18 years but appealed and got a 16-year jail term, half of which would be spent in prison. This allowed for him to be released a year ago. He was out on licence and subject to restrictions at the time of the attack.
Sources say he complied with those restrictions and did not show signs of planning anything. He attended Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday for a University of Cambridge-organised conference on rehabilitating offenders.
Lewis said it was right to ask whether tough enough sentences were being given to people committing such crimes.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it is right that we do have to look again at the sentences, as I say, around these violent crimes. The prime minister has argued that, has made that point previously, and made it very clearly last night.
“We will want to move very swiftly because our first priority is the safety of people around the country.”
The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, spoke earlier on the programme about the impact of police cuts on safety. “You can’t disaggregate terrorism and security from cuts made to resources of the police, of probation, the tools that judges have … The key thing is we need to support the police and security service.
“The point I am making is we can be safer, with more police and more resources.”
Lewis responded to Khan’s comments by saying: “Police funding for counter-terrorism policing has consistently increased since 2015. As have counter-terrorism police numbers.
“The Metropolitan police is the best-funded per capita police force in the country and we will continue to ensure they have the resources they need to keep us safe.”
Khan said armed police patrols in London would be increased over the coming days to reassure the public.
“What I am conscious of is both Londoners and visitors may be feeling slightly nervous this weekend and so what the [police services] will be doing over the course of this weekend and the next few days is have more high-visibility police officers present in London.
“That includes armed officers as well, and the key thing is not for the public to be alarmed by the fact that there are more armed officers, uniformed officers, present – there will also be plain-clothed officers present – but to reassure Londoners and visitors that we are as safe as we can be.”
The threat level in London is “substantial”, which means threat is likely. It was lowered from “severe” earlier this month.
The two people who died have not yet been named. A man and two women were also injured. The casualties were taken to the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, one of the capital’s four designated major trauma centres.
NHS England said on Friday night that one of the three injured was critical but stable, a second was stable and a third had suffered less serious injuries.