JUSTICE – HONESTY IN SENTENCING – 31 January 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: In opposition, we often made reference to the terrible effect on victims of crime of the fact that they thought the perpetrators had been sentenced to a certain term of imprisonment only to find them being released half way through it. Will the Secretary of State update the House on what progress we have made towards honesty in sentencing?

[The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): These conventions got worse when our opponents were in office. I say that before the right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan) starts attacking me. I, too, have expressed views in the past about honesty in sentencing. What happens currently is that for most sentences, half the term is served in prison; beyond that, prisoners become eligible for release, but they are on licence and liable to recall for the full term of their sentence if they do not adhere to it. There are measures in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently in the other place, that address the penalties to be imposed for various offences. In place of indeterminate sentences for public protection, for example, we are going back to how sentences used to be so that people will have long determinate sentences, and will normally serve two thirds of it before they are released. That is at least a step in the right direction for my hon. Friend.]