In a radical overhaul of sentencing, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today announced that criminals convicted of rape or attempted rape of a child or terrorism offences will no longer be automatically released at the half-way point of their prison sentence.
Alongside this, criminals who receive the new tough Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) will no longer be released automatically two-thirds of the way into their custodial sentence. This means that many of them will end up spending significantly more time in prison.
Under the proposals announced today these criminals will only be released before the end of their custodial term under strict conditions at the discretion of the independent Parole Board. Before the Parole Board releases any criminal they must be convinced they no longer pose a threat to society and that they have engaged with, and continue to engage with, their own rehabilitation. Unless they address their offending behaviour criminals can expect to serve their entire custodial term in prison.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
‘It’s outrageous that offenders who commit some truly horrific crimes in this country are automatically released from prison halfway through their custodial sentence, regardless of their behaviour, attitude and engagement in their own rehabilitation.
‘This Government is on the side of people who play by the rules and want to get on. We need to teach criminals a lesson; you will be punished for your crime and you must earn your release, it is not an automatic right.’
The changes will require primary legislation which will be bought forward in the new year. The changes are likely affect around 600 criminals per year who will only be released before the end of their prison sentence if they are deemed safe by the independent Parole Board.
The changes to automatic half-way release will apply to criminals who receive a determinate sentence for selected offences against children under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, including rape of a child, and a range of terrorism offences including possession of an article for terrorist purposes, inciting terrorism overseas and preparation of terrorist acts.
At present criminals convicted of certain offences such as grievous bodily harm with intent, who the courts believe are dangerous, can receive an Extended Determinate Sentence where they must serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are released into the community under strict conditions. For some offenders their release is automatic, others are subject to the discretion of the Parole Board. Under the proposals announced today every offender who receives an EDS will only be released into the community, before the end of their prison sentence, if the Parole Board believe they no longer pose a risk to society.