Amendment 205

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 10th November 2021.

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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar:

Moved by Lord Wolfson of Tredegar

205: Clause 107, page 94, line 36, leave out “may be imposed” and insert “could have been imposed (in the case of an offender aged 21 or over) at the time when the actual sentence was imposed”Member’s explanatory statementThis provides that the longer period before release for sentences within new section 244ZA(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 will apply only in relation to offences that were punishable with life imprisonment at the time of sentencing (not offences that are later made so punishable).

Photo of Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Lord Wolfson of Tredegar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My Lords, this is a drafting amendment to Clause 107. Its purpose, as I hope has been explained, is to prevent a prisoner who is serving a sentence for an offence which, at the time it was imposed, did not carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, having their release date changed retrospectively from the half-way to the two-thirds point.

Such an offender should not be made subject to the two-thirds release provisions of Clause 107 should the maximum penalty for their offence be increased to life at a later date, after they were sentenced. Let me give an example that I hope the Committee will find helpful. An offender is sentenced for an offence that currently carries a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. They receive an eight-year determinate sentence. That sentence is not caught by the two-thirds release requirements because the offence does not carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, so the offender is given a half-way release point. Now let us assume that, three years later, the Government increase the maximum penalty for that offence to life imprisonment. Without this amendment, the offender would have their release point retrospectively amended from the half-way to the two-thirds point of the sentence.

That was not the intention of Clause 107, and it is important that we correct this now. With this amendment, Clause 107 is future-proofed appropriately and as intended. It applies to those sentenced for offences that are increased to a life maximum in the future, but applies only to those sentenced after that increase in the maximum sentence becomes law. The amendment will ensure a fair and consistent approach to such offences. For those reasons, I beg to move this amendment.

Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, we support these amendments. It is obviously right to remove the retrospection and we congratulate whoever spotted the anomaly and brought the amendments to the Committee.

Amendment 205 agreed.

Amendment 206 not moved.