Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Clarke 'to unveil sentence changes'

Ken Clarke is expected to unveil changes to the justice system next week

Criminals who enter an early guilty plea could having their sentences cut by up to half under a shake-up of sentencing, it has been reported.

Under proposals to be unveiled by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke next week, tens of thousands of offenders could also avoid prison and instead be handed beefed-up community penalties instead, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Private firms could also be brought in to run some community punishments which could see criminals repairing roads or cleaning railways.

The Justice Secretary will rule out scrapping short jail terms, however, while a Tory pledge to make judges set minimum and maximum sentences will not be included in the Green Paper, the newspaper reported.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman would not confirm any details of the Green Paper but said: "We need a more intelligent approach to sentencing that targets the root causes of crime and reoffending, so making our communities safer and better places to live.

"There is no question that we must protect the public from the most dangerous criminals in our society; however we must also ensure the courts have the power to make the right response to stop people committing crime.

"We are therefore in the process of conducting a full assessment of sentencing and rehabilitation policy to ensure it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending.

"We will consult on any proposals shortly."

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