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'Clear and tough' sentencing reforms announced

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a number of reforms which will be set out in the Sentencing and Legal Aid Bill.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speaking in a press conference in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said the current prison system was failing and needed to be reformed so families can “feel safe in their homes”:

My mission is to make sure families feel safe in their homes and they can walk the streets freely and without fear. Our policies are about making sure that is the case.

The system today is failing and badly needs reform.

The PM announced proposed reforms including a mandatory prison term for threatening someone with a knife; a new criminal offence for property squatting; plans to release more defendants on bail rather than holding them in custody; and making prisoners work harder, longer and pay more compensation to their victims.

We’re going to review the existing system urgently with a view to replacing it with an alternative that is clear, tough and better understood by the public”.

Mr Cameron also confirmed that plans to allowing prisoners who pleaded guilty at the earliest stage up to 50% off their sentences would not be taken forward.

Breaking the cycle of reoffending needs a new approach, the PM said, with those who run prisons or community sentences being paid according to their success in reducing reoffending at every stage.

Each prison place costs about £45,000 a year, with almost one in two offenders reoffending within one year. Mr Cameron said the reforms announced today aim to tackle these statistics.

The Bill will include “tough action on knife crime, which has been the cause of so many tragedies in our communities”.

Even after all these tragedies, far too many people still think they can go out armed with a knife. We need to send the clearest possible message that this simply has to change.

Published 21 June 2011