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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

May 24, 2005: DPP Advocates Murder Law Reform

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ken Macdonald has advocated reform of current murder laws. The DPP is responsible for ensuring the independent review and prosecution of criminal proceedings started by the police in England and Wales. He believes that some murderers have been able to escape justice due to the rigidity of the system as it currently stands. He told the Times newspaper that the single offence of murder should be replaced by what would effectively be an American-style system, which would consider the seriousness of the murder.

In America, prosecutors typically choose between first and second degree murder. In practice, this would mean that only the most serious murders would result in a life sentence. As in America, those convicted of lesser degree murders may be sentenced to shorter jail terms. Such a change would end the classic English prosecution choice of either a charge of murder, (with a mandatory life imprisonment sentence), or manslaughter.

In an interview with the Times, the DPP stated that he was “strongly in favour of a system that recognises degrees of homicide… not just murder or manslaughter, but three or four degrees”. He considered that the majority of murderers would nevertheless still receive mandatory life imprisonment. “If we are talking about a serious homicide, killing with an intention to kill, that should attract a mandatory life sentence.”

Should such a change take place, the judiciary would enjoy the discretion to ensure that sentences are more exactly linked to the circumstances of each individual murder. Many judges may support the DPP’s view, though government may be anxious at any possible public perception that it is soft on crime, particularly serious or violent crime.