Tories unveil tougher sentencing stance for the worst offenders

01/10/2019
Author: Andrew Costello

Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland is set to outline tougher rules for those convicted of serious violent and sexual offences today.

The changes are set to be announced at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Mr Buckland is expected to say that offenders will have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being considered for parole.

The announcement follows a review ordered by PM, Boris Johnson looking at bringing in longer sentences for the worst offenders in England and Wales. The move is part of a tough new stance by the Conservative Party which is aiming to promote itself as the party of law and order.

Currently, convicted prisoners in England and Wales can be released half-way through their sentence. The new rules, however, will mean that offenders will be released further in to their prison term under strict licence conditions. Breaking any of the conditions imposed in the parole agreement will see the offender returned to prison immediately.

The announcement is likely to be welcomed by Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons who has already warned the government that the safety of the public is being put at risk by the release of some prisoners. In his 2018-19 annual report, Mr Clarke claimed thousands of prisoners who were potentially a "high risk of harm" to the public were being released "without proper assessment".

Speaking of the announcement, Andrew Costello, a partner in Russell & Russell’s crime department, said: "The government is making bold statements that it believes will give the nation confidence in their Party. If they can deliver then they will no doubt secure votes. However, it must not be forgotten that in the last decade and beyond the criminal justice system has been stripped to the bone. It was only a matter of weeks ago that the new PM promised 20,000 new police officers. The reality is that the money and resources that have been drained out of the criminal justice system need to be replaced.

"It’s all well and good promising 20,000 new police officers, but how is this to be paid for? It’s all well and good promising tougher sentences, but until the system can cope with this, and until the police are back on the streets arresting the offenders, one might think that they are fairly empty promises."

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