Society’s most depraved killers will face life behind bars with no chance of being released, under tough plans announced by the Prime Minister.
Making sure that life means life, judges will be required to hand down mandatory whole life orders to the monsters who commit the most horrific types of murder.
In the latest move to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders, this will place a legal expectation on judges to hand down whole life orders, except in extremely limited circumstances.
By putting this on a legal footing, judges will have greater confidence to hand out whole life orders without a risk of challenge in the Courts of Appeal.
This will mean the depraved killers who carry out vile crimes will be in no doubt that they will be in prison for the rest of their lives.
For the first time, whole life orders will also be the default sentence for any sexually motivated murders. This could have been applied in the recent tragic cases of Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa, putting their horrific killers in prison for their whole lives.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
I have shared the public’s horror at the cruelty of crimes we have seen recently. People rightly expect that in the most serious cases, there should be a guarantee that life will mean life. They expect honesty in sentencing.
By bringing in mandatory whole life orders for the heinous criminals who commit the most horrific types of murder, we will make sure they never walk free.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC, said:
A whole life order will now be the expectation for murderers where the killing involves sexual or sadistic conduct.
This important law change will ensure that the worst of the worst can now expect to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Today’s announcement builds on the Government’s work to cut crime and build stronger communities, with violent crime down by 46 percent since 2010 and neighbourhood crime by 51 percent.
Since 2019, over 20,000 new police officers have been recruited and 100,000 knives taken off our streets. The Government has also launched a new Anti-Social Behaviour Plan to clamp down on crimes that can terrorise communities for good.
The Government is also making sure the worst offenders face the toughest possible punishment for their crimes.
Serious violent and sexual offenders now serve at least two-thirds of their sentence behind bars, ending halfway release, and the average custodial sentence length is longer across the board meaning that criminals are spending more time in prison.
The Government has also ended the automatic early release of terrorists through the Terrorist Offenders Act 2020 and introduced a 14-year minimum jail term for the most dangerous terrorist offenders through the Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021.
The Government is also committed to looking at changing the law to make sure that people who commit the most horrific crimes face their victims in court and hear first-hand the impact that their crimes have had on them and their families and loved ones.
The Government will legislate for the changes announced today in due course.