Our current sentencing and release framework is failing to give victims and the wider public the confidence they should have in our criminal justice system. Too often, we are told, the time offenders spend in prison does not match the severity of the crime. The Prime Minister therefore announced an urgent internal review, focusing on the sentencing for the most serious violent and sexual offenders and the rules governing when and how those offenders are released. The review also considered changes to sentencing for the most prolific offenders which could help break the cycle of reoffending.
Based on the findings of the review, we will be bringing forward proposals shortly for a comprehensive package of legislative reform. This will include amending the automatic release point for the most serious sexual and violent offenders.
Under the current system, which dates back to the Labour Government in 2003, the majority of offenders receive a standard determinate sentence and must be released automatically at the half-way point, to serve the second half of their sentence in the community on licence. We want to stop this practice for the most serious violent and sexual offenders, who have committed offences such as rape, robbery and GBH with intent, so that they spend much longer in prison, protecting the public and giving greater confidence to victims. We shall therefore legislate to amend the automatic release point for the most serious sexual and violent offenders (where the offence carries a maximum life sentence) from the half-way point to two thirds of the sentence.
As part of our package of reforms, we also plan to bring forward proposals for community penalties that offer an appropriate level of punishment, while tackling the underlying drivers of offending.
Our proposals to reform the sentencing and release framework complement the raft of initiatives we are taking as a Government to fight crime and protect the public from its devastating consequences. As we continue to develop policy and before legislating, we will consider fully the impact of the proposals and have due regard to the requirements of s149 of the Equality Act 2010.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: