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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

July 21, 2005: Murder Law Review

Home Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart has laid down the terms of reference for the first comprehensive review of murder law in over 50 years. The review was originally announced by former Home Secretary David Blunkett in October 2004.

The Review will last between 18 months and 2 years, and will be led by the Home Office, independent of ministers, working closely with the Law Commission. It will look at the framework of offences across murder and manslaughter and will focus on various elements of murder including the partial defences and the issue of provocation.

The Government has made clear its concern over the current position on provocation, particularly where the alleged provocation is due to sexual jealously and infidelity. In such cases, raising the partial defence can often mean the victim is blamed and the defendant is able to plead manslaughter not murder.

The Review will take place in two stages. Firstly, the Law Commission will conduct an analysis of the laws relating to murder, taking into account their earlier findings on partial defences. The Law Commission's conclusions will then be studied by the Review Team who will consider the wider public policy issues to provide a substantial and comprehensive view for future legislation. There will be a full public consultation as part of the Review.

The Commission will issue a consultation paper by the end of 2005. They aim to provide the Home Office with their provisional recommendations in early Summer 2006 and will publish a final report in Autumn 2006. They plan to consult with, among others, the public, criminal justice system practitioners, academics and those who work with victims' families. The Law Commission has stated that they encourage any individual or organisation to send their views to the Commission before they publish their consultation paper.

Fiona Mactaggart said:

“Murder is the most serious crime and it is essential that the law reflects this. Whilst the Government remains committed to retaining the mandatory life sentences and the murder principles set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Review will look at the overall framework of murder to ensure that the Government provides coherent and clear offences which protect the public and enable those convicted to be appropriately punished.

“It is vital that the law on murder makes sense and people clearly understand it. The law needs to be clear, wide-ranging and fair so that people have confidence in the criminal justice system. We want to have an open and inclusive debate on the issues before we make firm recommendations on how the law should be reformed.

"The Government welcomes the Law Commission's role in using their legal expertise to provide a legal analysis. This will build on the research and analysis contained in their previous work on partial defences but look at things afresh in the context of the more wide ranging review, and it will inform and complement the work of the Review Team to provide a substantial and comprehensive review of the law of murder".

The Law Commission recommended a review of murder in their report 'Partial Defences to Murder', August 2004, No290. The review described the current law on murder as a "mess".Law Commission Chairman Sir Roger Toulson said:

"We are pleased to have been given the opportunity to carry out this review. There have been calls for this area of the law to be properly reconsidered for the past thirty years, and the decision by the Home Office to invite the Law Commission to undertake a review of the law is very welcome... Ministers recognise that there is considerable public concern about the apparent disparity in the treatment of offenders convicted of murder and those convicted of manslaughter."