Radical sentencing overhaul announced

The Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, has today set out his plan for “smarter sentencing”. The reforms, included in a White Paper (A Smarter Approach to Sentencing), propose to increase custodial sentences for sexual and violent offenders, aim to tackle underlying causes of criminal behaviour and improve rehabilitation and supervision of offenders in the community.

Measures include:

  • Whole life orders for those convicted of murdering a child (in cases where there has been a substantial degree of premeditation or planning), as well as allowing judges to impose a whole life order to 18-20-year olds in exceptional cases.
  • New powers to prevent the automatic release of offenders who pose a terrorist threat or are a danger to the public. Instead, they may be referred to the Parole Board and they will have to serve the full term in custody if the Parole Board does not consider them safe to be released beforehand.
  • Reducing opportunities for over 18s who committed murder as a child, to have their minimum term reviewed.
  • Increasing halfway release to two-thirds for offenders sentenced to between four and seven years in prison for serious crimes such as rape, manslaughter and GBH with intent.
  • Increasing the starting point for determining sentences for 15-17-year olds who commit murder from a minimum of 12 years to two-thirds of the equivalent starting point for adults
  • Longer tariffs for discretionary life sentences. Minimum terms will be calculated as two-thirds of the notional determinate sentence rather than the current one-half.
  • Piloting Problem Solving Court models in up to five courts, targeted at repeat offenders.
  • Making full use of tagging technologies to create a tough restrictive order in the community.
  • Piloting new ways of delivering timely, high-quality Pre-Sentence Reports and launching a national ‘Call for Evidence’ to obtain a clearer picture of how the justice system supports offenders with neuro-divergent conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia.
  • Doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years.

[Full GOV.UK press release here]


The Sentencing Bill (2019-21)

The Sentencing Bill completed its House of Lords stages on Tuesday 8 September 2020 and was presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday 9 September 2020.

This Bill will have its second reading debate and all remaining stages in the House of Commons on Wednesday 30 September 2020.