Boris Johnson promises stiffer sentences for dangerous criminals

Boris Johnson promises stiffer sentences for dangerous criminals to end ‘ridiculous’ system of ‘catching offenders only to let them out of prison early’

  • Boris Johnson today set out Government’s sentencing reform plans to Cabinet
  • The plans will allow judges to impose tougher sentences on dangerous criminals
  • PM is proposing longer sentences for child killers and longer waits for parole

Boris Johnson today vowed to end the ‘ridiculous’ system of dangerous criminals being let out of prison early only for them to then commit further crimes. 

The Prime Minister told the Cabinet ‘there’s no point in catching these criminals if they are simply going to be let out early’ and go on to reoffend as he set out his plans for sentencing reform.

New measures being brought forward by the Government include longer sentences for child killers, lowering the age limit on whole-life tariffs and measures to force violent criminals to spend longer behind bars before they can apply for parole. 

The Government is due to set out its plans in full in a Sentencing White Paper published tomorrow. 

Mr Johnson said the overriding principle driving the reforms is that of ‘public protection’.       

Boris Johnson told his Cabinet this morning that he wanted to end the ‘ridiculous’ system of dangerous criminals being let out of prison early only to then commit more crimes

Mr Johnson told a meeting of his Cabinet this morning: ‘We have seen far too many cases recently of criminals being let out early and then offending again and the judges being unable to impose the stiffer sentences that they want and that society wants because of the restrictive guidelines that they face.’

The PM said there had been ‘massive’ investment in policing but argued ‘there’s no point in catching these criminals if they are simply going to be let out early’.

He told ministers that he wanted ‘sensible approaches to sentencing, making it easier for judges to put dangerous offenders behind bars for longer’. 

He promised to end the ‘ridiculous state of affairs whereby a criminal can just get back out onto the streets even when it is clear to everybody – including the court – that they pose a threat to justice and a threat to the British public’.

‘That includes longer sentences for child killers, lowering the age limit on whole-life tariffs for the worst offenders and locking (up) for longer more of the most violent criminals before they can apply for parole,’ he said. 

‘What we are doing is we are putting public protection as the single most important factor in our criminal justice policy and I think that will command the sympathy and approval of the British public.’

Among measures already announced to toughen sentences are plans for criminals who assault emergency workers to face up to two years in jail.

Ministers plan to bring forward legislation to double the maximum term for those convicted of assaults on frontline staff including police officers and firefighters.

It will be the second change in two years after the 2018 Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act increased the maximum sentence from six months to a year.

The law change also meant that when a person is convicted of offences including sexual assault or manslaughter, the judge must consider whether the offence was committed against an emergency worker as an aggravating factor meriting an increase in the sentence.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Our police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, yet some despicable individuals still think it’s acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants.

‘This new law sends a clear and simple message to these vile thugs – you will not get away with such appalling behaviour and you will be subject to the force of the law.’

More than 11,000 people were prosecuted for assaulting an emergency worker in 2019, the Ministry of Justice said.

Mr Johnson said there had been ‘far too many cases recently of criminals being let out early and then offending again’

The Government’s sentencing reforms include longer sentences for child killers, lowering the age limit on whole-life tariffs and measures to force violent criminals to spend longer behind bars before they can apply for parole

Assaults cover acts including being pushed, shoved or spat at, but prosecutions can take place under more serious offences when an emergency worker is seriously injured.

The new law will apply to police, prison staff, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue workers and frontline health workers.

The chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Martin Hewitt said: ‘We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line and the doubling of the maximum sentence sends a clear message that society will not tolerate abuse of our emergency workers.’

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, welcomed the change, which he said had come about after ‘an incredible amount of hard work and lobbying’ by the organisation.

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