Sentencing

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 20th April 2021.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans his Department has to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that sentencing is commensurate with the severity of the crime.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

This government is serious about fighting crime, protecting the public and creating a criminal justice system that people have confidence in. Sentencing plays a crucial role in this: it is one of the key ways through which the public, victims, and offenders see justice being done, and this government is clear that sentencing must be commensurate with the severity of the crime committed.

On the 9th March the government introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC Bill). This legislation will bring forward the new, smarter approach to sentencing laid out in the Sentencing White Paper published in September 2020.

Serious sexual and violent offenders must spend as much of their sentence behind bars as possible in order to reflect the severity of their crimes. The PCSC Bill will:

    • End automatic halfway release from prison for an additional cohort of serious sexual and violent offenders;
    • Make a Whole Life Order the starting point for the premeditated murder of a child, as well as allowing judges to hand out this maximum punishment to 18-20 year olds in exceptional cases;
    • Introduce a new power to prevent the automatic early release of prisoners who become a significant public protection concern while in custody; and
    • Double the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker.

Delivering public protection and ensuring that sentencing is commensurate with the severity of the crime is not just about better use of custody. The PCSC Bill will make community sentences more effective so that they offer an appropriate level of punishment but also address the underlying drivers of offending, by:

    • Piloting a problem-solving court approach for certain community and suspended sentence orders;
    • Improving national consistency for adult Out of Court Disposals; and
    • Extending the use of Electronic Monitoring.

The government is pleased that the PCSC Bill was given a Second Reading on 16th March by a large majority. As we are approaching the end of the current session, the House of Commons agreed to carry over consideration of the Bill to the next session. Given the size of the Bill, it is right to allow time for MPs to consider the detail before starting their line-by-line scrutiny.

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