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Major new justice Bill presented to Parliament

Plans to cut reoffending, improve the sentencing framework and reform the legal aid system have been outlined by the Ministry of Justice. The plans are detailed in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, and are summarised below.

Plans to cut reoffending, improve the sentencing framework and reform the legal aid system have been outlined by the Ministry of Justice. The plans are detailed in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, and are summarised below.

Cutting reoffending

Intensive measures designed to get offenders off drink and drugs will be tested in five jails over the next year. As part of a drive to tackle addiction and drug abuse inside prison, drug recovery wings will be launched at the following prisons:

  • Bristol
  • Holme House
  • Brixton
  • High Down
  • Manchester

Further plans to tackle reoffending include:

  • making prisoners work harder, longer and on meaningful tasks
  • ensuring prisoners earn money for victims, and not just for themselves
  • cracking down hard on drug abuse inside prisons
  • demanding more from offenders in tackling the root cause of their criminality
  • ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent on programmes that work

Sentencing

In response to the ‘Breaking the Cycle’ consultation, the Ministry of Justice has announced a new offence of aggravated knife possession, with a mandatory prison sentence of at least six months.

The Ministry of Justice is conducting an urgent review of Imprisonment for Public Protection. The review could see tougher sentencing recommendations, such as:

  • more serious offenders receiving life sentences – with mandatory life sentences for the most serious repeat offenders
  • offenders who commit serious sexual and violent offences spending two thirds of their sentence in prison rather than the half they spend under the current system

The review will also consider the implications of these proposals for mental health services.

For more about sentencing, visit the Ministry of Justice microsite where you can try passing your own sentences and see if you are more or less strict than a real judge.

Legal Aid

The £2 billion plus system of legal aid in England and Wales faces reform under the Bill. Planned reforms in the Bill include:

  • means testing all Legal Aid applicants including those on benefits
  • abolishing legal aid for squatters resisting eviction and most immigration cases
  • retaining legal aid for Special Educational Needs cases
  • retaining legal aid for cases where people’s life or liberty is at stake, where they are at risk of serious physical harm, or immediate loss of their home, or where their children may be taken into care
  • legal aid being made available for victims of domestic violence and child abuse

Further information

The Employee and Lone Worker Protection Manual: Download here