'Life will mean life for child murderers' Tories pledge sweeping prison reforms

19 November 2019, 05:07

The Tories have pledged a raft of measures
The Tories have pledged a raft of measures. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Child murderers will face life in prison without parole under a majority Conservative government the party have said.

Prison sentences would be toughened to end the practice of early release at the halfway point of jail sentences for those convicted of the most serious violent and sexual crimes.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said a Tory government would work to end the "sickening injustice" of the parents of murdered children having to see their child's killer go free.

While life sentences are mandatory for murder, most convicted murderers do not spend the rest of their lives in jail.

Under current rules, only those convicted of multiple child murders or have been found to have been sexually or sadistically motivated attract a whole life order, which the Tories said was "too restrictive".

The Tories' plans would mean that a whole life order would be the starting tariff in cases of child murder, although judges in individual cases would be able to set it aside if there were "exceptional mitigating circumstances".

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland laid out the Conservative plans
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland laid out the Conservative plans. Picture: PA

"There can be no more sickening injustice than that of heartbroken parents watching the killer of their child walk free," he said.

"That's why under a Conservative majority government the law will be rewritten to be absolutely clear: any murderer who denies a young, innocent child the right to life surrenders their own right to liberty. They do so permanently, and they do so without exception.

"There is nothing we can do to take away the pain of the families of murdered children. So we must do everything in our power not to compound it."

The party is also proposing a raft of measures to cut re-offending rates by helping those leaving custody find work within six weeks of release.

A dedicated Prison Education Service would be established to oversee the education and skills training offered across all jails, and provide work-based training to help those leaving custody secure work.

Prisoners would be offered more hours of work enabling them to learn new skills, with additional prison workshops.

Every prison would have a dedicated work coach providing support throughout a prisoner's sentence and establishing links with local job centres ahead of their release and promising support with creating CVs and applying for roles.