Written 7th February 2014 by Olliers Solicitors

The new measure is part of the wide-ranging Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, unveiled this week by Chris Grayling, aimed at revamping sentencing and ensuring the Courts deliver efficiency for the taxpayer.

As a result, convicted criminals will be made to pay towards the cost of running the country’s criminal courts. All convicted adult offenders will have to pay a charge with the money being reinvested back into the running of the courts.

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice have introduced some measures in a bid to ensure criminals are punished properly, with the scrapping of automatic early release for terrorists and child rapists. Sentencing loopholes will also be closed, with the creation of a new offence for being on the run. Changes to cautions are also to be introduced.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
“My priority with these reforms is to deliver a tough package of sentencing measures to make sure offenders are punished properly and consistently, so that the law-abiding majority know that we’re making the changes needed to keep them and their families safe. I also want to make sure we reduce the burden on hardworking taxpayers of the costs of running the courts.

“The public expects that serious and repeat criminals should be punished appropriately, and that those who are jailed should have to earn the right to be released early from prison. It is only right that those offenders who break the law and try to avoid serving the entirety of their sentence by going on the run face additional punishment when they are caught.

“From my first day in this job I have been clear that people must have confidence in our justice system. We’re on the side of people who work hard and want to get on, and that is why these reforms will make sure that those who commit crime pay their way and contribute towards the cost of their court cases.”

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill proposes the following changes to the law:

  • New Offences of Juror Misconduct: Four new offences of juror misconduct will be introduced – researching details of a case (including any online research), sharing details of the research with other jurors, disclosing details of juror deliberation and engaging in other prohibited conduct.
  • New Criminal Offence of being Unlawfully At Large: Criminals who go on the run will face an additional sentence of up to two years.
  • Ending Automatic Early Release for Paedophiles and Terrorists: Criminals convicted of rape or attempted rape of a child or serious terrorism offences will no longer be automatically released at the half-way point of their prison sentence.
  • Clampdown on Cautions for Serious and Repeat Offenders: Criminals will no longer be able to receive a caution for the most serious offences such as rape and robbery and for a range of other serious ‘either way’ offences. For less serious offences, criminals will also no longer be able to receive a second caution for the same, or similar, offence committed in a two year period.
  • Life Sentences for More Terrorist Offences: The maximum sentence for three terrorist offences – weapons training for terrorist purposes, other training for terrorism and making or possession of explosives, will be increased to a life sentence. Terrorists convicted of a second very serious offence will face the ‘two strikes’ automatic life sentence.
  • More than three quarters of a million low-level ‘regulatory cases’, such as TV licence evasion and road tax evasion, may be dealt with by a single magistrate rather than a bench of two or three.
  • Banning Violent Rape Pornography: Possession of explicit pornography that shows images depicting rape will become illegal.
  • Overhauling Detention of Young Offenders: The rehabilitation of young offenders will be overhauled by introducing secure colleges. Led by a principal, the secure college will put education at the heart of youth rehabilitation.
  • Increase Juror Age Limit: People aged 75 and under will be able to sit as jurors in England and Wales.

Samantha Doyle

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