Today David Cameron held a press conference to discuss the reforms proposed in the Sentencing and Legal Aid Bill which will come into force very soon.
Interestingly and perhaps not as ‘news worthy’ as the U-turn on an original proposal to cut sentencing by 50% where a defendant pleads guilty early he also said that he plans to hold a consultation to make the act of squatting a criminal offence. What housing pressure groups and housing charities have to say about this remains to be seen.
Other reforms are longer hours of work for prisoners, and more compensation to victims of crime by prisoners. This is not unlike the previous Government whose policies got tough with prisoners even though Tony Blair had originally said he would get tough on the cause and root of crime.
The Government has taken a not unsurprising ‘conservative’ approach to the issue of crime in the UK with plans to release more defendants on bail rather than hold them in custody (saving money here) cuts to the legal aid budget (saving more money). The Bill also is going to provide homeowners and shopkeepers protection from prosecution where they use force to protect their property from criminals.
The Bill also proposes a mandatory prison sentence for those that threatening someone with a knife – would this also apply to the homeowner or shopkeeper our author ponders?
In summing up about the original 50% reduction on sentencing where the defendant pleads guilty early Mr Cameron said:
“For the most serious crimes, we’ve concluded this would certainly not be right. The sentence served would depart far too much from the sentence handed down by the judge, and this is simply not acceptable”