Ministry of Justice
Helen’s Law takes vital step closer
Murderers and paedophiles who hold back information on their victims could spend longer behind bars as a bill to enact ‘Helen’s Law’ entered parliament yesterday (15 October 2019).
- bill to introduce ‘Helen’s Law’ enters Parliament yesterday (15 October 2019)
- criminals who withhold information on victims could spend longer behind bars
- new law could also block paedophiles from release
‘Helen’s Law’ follows the tireless campaigning of Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988 but whose killer has never revealed her body’s location.
It will place a legal duty on the Parole Board to consider the cruelty of killers who refuse to give the location of a victim’s remains when assessing their release.
The Bill will also now apply to paedophiles who take indecent images of children but refuse to disclose their identity and could therefore see them locked away for longer.
‘Helen’s Law’ is the government’s latest move to overhaul the criminal justice system – following steps to recruit 20,000 new police officers, invest £2.5 billion in prisons and review sentencing to protect the public from the most violent and sexual offenders.
Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP yesterday said:
Innocent families should never have their grief compounded by offenders who refuse to disclose information on their victims.
Not only will this Bill help prevent the torture of families in Marie’s situation but we also believe evil sexual offenders who refuse to identify victims should face longer behind bars.
Helen’s Law should send another clear signal that under this government the most violent and sexual offenders can expect to serve sentences that reflect the true severity of their crimes.
The Prisoners (disclosure of information about victims) Bill was announced recently (14 October 2019) in the Queen’s Speech and is one of the first pieces of legislation to be introduced in the new parliamentary session.
Parole Board guidance is already clear that offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could therefore face longer in prison. ‘Helen’s Law’ will for the first time make it a legal requirement to consider the withholding of information when making a decision on whether to release an offender.
Human rights legislation protects against arbitrary detention, and the proposed new law balances this with the need to keep the public safe. The proposals also take into account instances where, for example, a murderer may genuinely not know the location of a victim’s body if it has been moved.
Notes to Editors
- The Prisoners (disclosure of information about victims) Bill will put in statute, and therefore beyond doubt, the Parole Board’s established practice of considering a failure by an offender to disclose specific information when deciding on parole for those convicted of murder, manslaughter, or taking, or making, indecent photographs of children.
- Courts can already pass tougher sentences for murderers who deliberately conceal the location of a body.
- The changes to the release test build on wider reforms to the parole system, announced earlier this year, that will allow victims the opportunity to request the reconsideration of a release decision. This forms part of sweeping changes to bring more transparency and accountability to the parole process and improve the support to victims.
- Applications for reconsideration will only be merited where there is a clear likelihood that the process may have been procedurally or legally flawed. It will not apply to decisions which are challenging and unpopular but have nevertheless clearly been carried out strictly in line with the lawful requirements and normal standards of practice for Parole Board members.
Latest News from
Ministry of Justice
Announcement of preferred candidate for HM Chief Inspector of Prisons05/08/2020 15:15:15
Charlie Taylor announced as candidate for next Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Wrexham magistrates’ court to undergo £5.4m transformation04/08/2020 15:15:15
Wrexham Magistrates’ Court will undergo £5.4m worth of renovations to boost capacity, improve accessibility, and deliver more trials.
Government launches independent panel to look at judicial review31/07/2020 16:10:00
A panel of experts will examine if there is a need to reform the judicial review process after an independent review was launched by government today (31 July).
Improvements to care for pregnant women and mothers in prison31/07/2020 12:25:00
Individual care plans and increased staff training on supporting vulnerable mothers and pregnant women will significantly improve the way they are cared for in custody, under a new policy published today (Friday 31 July).
Public safety boosted with 1,000 new probation officers30/07/2020 12:15:00
Frontline probation services will be boosted by more than 1,000 new recruits as part of a major three-year plan to strengthen the supervision of offenders unveiled today.
Lord Chancellor’s Mansion House speech to the judiciary29/07/2020 13:15:00
Full text of the speech given by Robert Buckland QC to the judiciary about judicial independence, reform and future.
Video-witnessed wills to be made legal during coronavirus pandemic27/07/2020 12:15:00
The Government is to legalise the remote witnessing of wills – making it easier for people to record their final wishes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rapidly delivering an online form using MoJ Form Builder23/07/2020 15:15:15
Blog posted by: Phillip Cogger, 22 July 2020 – Categories: Agile, Content, Courts and tribunals, Design.