Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Victims to be protected through Sentencing Reforms [November 2023]

The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 14 November 2023.

Cowardly domestic abusers will continue to face time behind bars under legislation laid in Parliament today which will also see the most horrific murderers face life behind bars and rapists locked up for longer.

  • Sentencing Bill to crackdown on violent offenders
  • Bill will see rapists spend their full custodial sentence in prison and Whole Life Orders for any murder involving sexual or sadistic conduct
  • The reforms to sentencing will also help low risk offenders escape the merry-go-around of short prison terms and turn their lives away from crime
  • Stalkers, abusers, and prolific offenders continue to face time behind bars

As action is being taken to stop low risk offenders getting stuck in the revolving door of short prison sentences, the Government has confirmed that domestic abusers will continue to face jail, and judges will have full discretion to lock up any tormentor who puts an individual at significant risk of psychological or physical harm.

Changes to shorter jail stints also won’t apply to those in front of the court for breaching a court order such as a restraining or stalking prevention order. This will keep the safety of women and girls at the heart of the criminal justice system.

The announcement comes as the Sentencing Bill, which was set out in the King’s Speech, is introduced in the House of Commons.

As part of this bill, the Government will bring in a raft of measures to better protect the British public from the worst offenders.

Under the plans, the most heinous murderers will spend the rest of their lives locked up, including for any murder involving sexual or sadistic conduct. With Whole Life Orders being handed down in the worst cases, and judges only able to not impose one in exceptional circumstances, life will mean life.

The new legislation will also mean rapists and criminals who commit other serious sexual offences spend their full custodial term in prison behind bars, making the average sentence for rape up 50% when the Government came to power in 2010.

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC said:

“We want domestic abuse victims to know this Government is on their side, so we will do everything possible to protect them from those who cause harm, or threaten to do so.

“That’s why we are ensuring that judges retain full discretion to hand down prison sentences to domestic abusers  – to give victims the confidence to rebuild their lives knowing their tormentors are safely behind bars.”

While custody is the only appropriate punishment for the most dangerous and violent offenders, for many, a short time in custody can begin a merry-go-round of reoffending that can devastate communities and leave countless more victims.

That is why, through the Sentencing Bill, there will be a presumption on the courts to suspend custodial sentences of twelve months or less. This is backed by government statistics which show over 50 per cent of offenders serving a sentence of 12 months or less go on to commit another crime compared to 58 per cent of those serving six months or less.

Where suspended sentences are given, offenders will be punished in the community, repaying their debt to society by cleaning up our neighbourhoods and scrubbing graffiti off walls. They will also be strictly overseen by the Probation Service and subject to license conditions which could include state-of-the-art electronic monitoring tags and curfews.

They will also be able to better access drug and alcohol rehab, mental healthcare and other support that properly addresses the root causes of their offending.

In order to reduce the number of offenders trapped in the revolving prison door, the Sentencing Bill will:

  • Introduce a presumption to suspend prison sentences of 12 months or less in certain circumstances.
  • Expand the use of Home Detention Curfew (HDC) to suitable offenders serving sentences of four years or more.

Judges will retain their discretion to hand down custodial sentences where they feel it is right in the circumstances of the case.