Conservatives Signal Tougher Sentencing Regime

October 2, 2019

The Conservatives have signalled that they want to increase the severity the current sentencing regime, particularly for offenders who commit some of the most serious offences.  Automatic release at the half-way point of some sentences is likely to be removed.

Government statistics for 2018 show that for serious sexual and violent offences the following sentence types were imposed:

•          Over 4000 Standard Determinate Sentence – where an offender is automatically released at the half-way point of their sentence and be on licence in the community for the second half of the sentence.

•          Around 250 Extended Determinate Sentences – where an offender becomes eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board two thirds of the way through their sentence – but will not be released before the end of their sentence unless assessed as safe to do so. 

•          400 life sentences – where an offender spends a minimum period or “tariff” in prison before being considered for release by the Parole Board.  These offenders may therefore never be released.  If released, offenders spend the rest of their life on licence and can be recalled to custody.

The government’s proposal would effectively change the sentencing regime to treat the 4,000 offenders who received Standard Determinate Sentence in the same way as those who have Extended Determinate Sentences.

This proposed change to the sentencing regime will require legislation and will feature in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech as part of the government’s law and order agenda.   If the Conservative party remain in government, then it is likely to be mid-2020 before this is implemented.   However, there is obviously a deal of uncertainty about the make up of any future government given that there will clearly be a General Election in the near future.   It is unlikely that any changes would be applied retrospectively.

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