Serious criminals to serve two-thirds of jail time in judicial overhaul


Image copyright
Getty Images

Sexual and violent offenders will serve at least two-thirds of prison sentences, rather than half, as part of changes to the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

An overhaul of sentencing laws is officially announced Wednesday by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.

The whole life orders will also be extended to 18 to 20 year olds convicted of terrorism causing massive loss of life.

Mr Buckland said this marks the end of “complex and confusing” laws.

He said the sentencing changes would guarantee the most serious violent and sex offenders “the jail time they deserve.”

More help is promised for those with mental health and addiction issues.

It comes after the criminal justice system shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are considerable backlogs and delays for victims and defendants, who face trial dates for years to come.

Among the new interventions proposed in a white paper published on Wednesday are:

  • the option of a new whole life rate for killers under 21
  • lifelong orders for adults who murder children – which was a commitment by the Conservatives in last year’s general election.
  • raising the conviction threshold for serious crimes, including a “third strike” for burglaries and “two strikes” for possession of a knife
  • new powers to end the automatic release of offenders who pose a terrorist threat or pose a danger to the public
  • reduce the opportunities for those over 18 who committed murder as a child to have their minimum prison terms revised
  • use GPS beacons to track burglars, thieves and thieves when released from prison
  • deploy “sobriety labels” to fight alcohol-related crime

And offenders sentenced to between four and seven years in prison for serious crimes such as rape and manslaughter will no longer automatically be considered released halfway through their prison term.

While tougher penalties are among the proposed measures, changes to the criminal record to reduce the time offenders have to report past crimes to employers are also included.

For the past few days, the government has been dragging its White Paper with a series of catchy announcements promising tougher sentences for terrorists, violent offenders and motorists who kill.

Many of these plans are likely to enjoy broad public support, while moves to relax criminal record disclosure rules have the potential to make a real difference for ex-offenders who struggle to find work.

But the timing of the proposals is somewhat odd, as the government is grappling with the biggest crisis the criminal justice system has faced in decades.

Problems caused by the coronavirus have meant that a huge backlog of trials in England and Wales has grown further.

Sentencing changes, if materialized, will not help the tens of thousands of victims, witnesses and defendants caught in the backlog who now face the prospect of waiting up to two years for their trial. day in court.

The focus on supporting ex-offenders will see jail terms become “exhausted” after 12 months without recidivism, with convictions of up to four years no longer released after another four years without a crime.

Sentences of more than four years will not automatically be disclosed to employers after a further seven years of rehabilitation.


The announcement of sentencing reforms comes after lawyers warned hundreds of thousands of people may have to wait until 2022 for justice, due to delays in crown courts.

Since the lockdown began in March, the backlog of cases in Crown courts has increased from 6,000 to 43,000.

The Justice Department has pledged additional court staff of £ 1,600 and £ 80million for a range of measures, including more Nightingale courts.

And Mr Buckland told the BBC he would “use every tool in the book” to clear the backlog of cases.

Meanwhile, crime detection rates remain low, dropping from one in seven crime reports leading to a charge in 2015 to around one in 14 last year.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here