In an effort to tackle public concerns that the current sentencing regime is too soft, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has announced new measures at the party conference which would introduce longer prison sentences and alcohol detecting ‘sobriety tags’.
Buckland has promised to ensure that the most dangerous criminals such as sexual predators and the most violent offenders, as well as repeat offenders, serve more time in prison. Under the current sentencing regime, prisoners generally serve half of their sentences and are released ‘on license’ for the second half. Under new proposals, those deemed to be dangerous criminals will serve at least two thirds of their time before being considered for such release. Around 3,000 prisoners would be forced to serve longer sentences if this change came into force.
The Justice Secretary said: ‘What I’m doing is about increasing public confidence in the administration of prison sentences. As far as I’m concerned, the judges are doing their job. It’s now time for the Government to its job in order to protect the public more effectively.’
The Justice Secretary also ruled out scrapping prison sentences under six months, something which his predecessor was committed to doingafter multiple reviews showed that they were ineffective at tackling crime, in particular repeat offending. Further proposals include making it easier for the public to access statements made by judges in court and to apply more stringent conditions to community sentences.
With the introduction of the ‘sobriety bracelets’, judges will be able to require those convicted of drinking-related offences to wear them. These devices can detect alcohol in the sweat of the wearer. So, any offender caught drinking could be jailed. Buckland said: ‘Using technology means we can help make a difference when it comes to removing alcohol as a driver of criminality.’
The Tories have outlined these plans against a backdrop of increased reported crimes over the last 15 years, particularly with violent offences rising by 20 percent – the highest since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002. Other correlations which have been noted by Ministers include the reduction of stop and searches and arrests alongside increased gang violence.