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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

November 8, 2004: Sentencing Guidelines Council: Home Office Response

Home Secretary David Blunkett has re-stated his commitment to upholding new principles for setting murder tariffs - with the stated aim of ensuring that those convicted of murder receive a punishment that reflects the unique nature and seriousness of the crime. He agreed with the Home Affairs Select Committee that murder should be treated differently to all other offences.

He re-iterated that the length of time a convicted murderer should spend in prison before becoming eligible for parole (the tariff) should only be reduced by a guilty plea in limited circumstances - where the plea has particular merit, for example where the offender admits a crime that was unknown to the authorities or in relation to which there was no evidence against him. When those circumstances do apply, a cap should be set on how much discount can be given.

The Home Secretary was responding to draft guidelines published by the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) for consultation. He stressed his respect for the SGC's independence and welcomed the fact that the guidelines promoted the shared objective of consistent and effective sentencing. The SGC was established by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and given sole responsibility for issuing guidelines to courts in England and Wales on sentencing. It is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice and its membership includes sentencers, the Director of Public Prosecutions, a police chief, a criminal defence advocate and a victim expert. The SGC aims to:

  • Give authoritative guidance on sentencing.
  •  Give a strong lead on the approach to allocation and sentencing issues based on a principled approach which commands general support.
  • Enable sentencers to make decisions on sentencing that are supported by information on effectiveness of sentences and on the most effective use of resources.

Giving discounts for guilty pleas means that offenders can be encouraged to plead guilty early, saving victims and witnesses the trauma of a trial. The Home Secretary broadly welcomed the SGC's recommendations on reductions in sentences for guilty pleas for all other types of offences, though guidance would be necessary to ensure consistency and transparency so that defendants are made aware of the potential benefits of an early plea. However, he said he believed the guideline should include separate recommendations for considering guilty pleas in murder cases to reflect both the special nature of mandatory life tariffs and the heinous and unique nature of the crime.

Mr Blunkett also gave the Government's formal response to a second set of draft SGC guidelines on the concept of "seriousness" and the new sentencing framework introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. He broadly welcomed these guidelines as promoting the Government's objective of ensuring consistent and effective sentencing.

In particular, he welcomed the inclusion of offences committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs under the list of "aggravating factors". He said offenders should not be able to cite the fact they were drunk or on drugs as a mitigating factor in their defence.

The Government's response also comments on SGC proposals relating to the new "12 month plus" determinate prison sentence, due to come into effect next year under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

While accepting these new sentences will be more demanding for offenders who will in future be supervised under licence right to the end of the sentence and subject to recall to prison for any breaches, Mr Blunkett said the reduction in sentence length should be fixed and at a level less than that proposed by the SGC.