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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

June 17, 2009: Knife Murder Prison Term Review

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has stated that he will review the starting point from which judges set the minimum prison term for murder using a knife.  He will consult with the Senior Judiciary and Sentencing Guidelines Council, and is willing to receive the views of all interested parties.

The mandatory sentence for anyone convicted of murder is life imprisonment. It is up to the trial judge to decide the minimum period that needs to be served before the offender can be considered by the Parole Board for release.

Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 outlines that the starting point for murder using a knife is currently 15 years and the starting point for murder involving the use of a firearm is currently 30 years. But judges may go up or down from the starting point according to the circumstances of the case. An offender will only be released after serving the minimum period if the Parole Board, after a thorough safety assessment, considers he is safe to be released.

The Justice Secretary told Parliament that he thought there was a case to increase the starting point and would now consult with the judiciary and others. He will examine whether the starting point for murder using a knife should be increased from the current 15 years and brought in line with the 30 year starting point for murder involving the use of a firearm.

The issue was raised by the family of Ben Kinsella following the sentencing of his murderers on Friday 12 June. Mr Straw said:

‘The loss of a loved one in any circumstances is heart-breaking. That is why we are determined to do everything in our power to tackle the menace of knife crime on our streets. The message must be clear that if you are caught with a knife, there are serious consequences.'

‘We have already significantly strengthened the sentencing system – doubling the maximum sentencing for carrying a knife, introducing tougher penalties for youths caught with a knife or offensive weapon and making it clear that anyone aged 16 or over caught in possession of a knife can now expect to be prosecuted on the first offence.'

‘While sentencing is, and must remain, a matter for the courts, latest figures show that more and more people are going to jail for carrying knives, and longer and tougher sentences are being handed down.’

The Tackling Knives Action Programme has also recently been extended to encompass a range of police forces across England and Wales. Alongside this there is also a strong focus on prevention. The government is working with retailers nationwide to prevent the sale of knives to under 18s and has given teachers new powers to search for knives at school. This goes hand-in-hand with educational work to convince teenagers that carrying a knife does not make them safer – it actually puts them in more danger as their knife could well be used to hurt them.