Life Imprisonment

Justice written question – answered on 17th June 2014.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the highest total number of life sentences given to any single offender is in the last 30 years.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

A life sentence is mandatory for murder and discretionary life sentences are available for other very serious offences. This Government has introduced an automatic life sentence for a second very serious violent or sexual offence.

The number of offenders who receive two or more life sentences is small. A number of life sentence prisoners commit offences in prison which result in a second life sentence, as is the case with the offender identified in response to this question. Some life sentence prisoners can also receive a second life sentence on conviction for offences committed prior to being imprisoned (e.g. a previous murder or rape).

Of all offenders sentenced to life imprisonment between the years 2000 and 2013, the offender with the highest number of life sentences imposed on separate sentencing occasions in the 30 years prior to their most recent life sentence is an offender with four life sentences. All of the offender's life sentences were imposed for the attempted murder of fellow inmates and a guard.

The figure provided has been drawn from an extract of the Police National Computer (PNC) data held by the Department. The PNC holds details of all convictions and cautions given for recordable offences committed in England and Wales. Full criminal histories are only available for offenders convicted or cautioned for a recordable offence from the year 2000 onwards. In addition, as with any large-scale recording system the PNC is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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