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'Too lenient' jail plans scrapped

More foreign criminals will be deported and serious repeat offenders jailed for life as part of David Cameron's attempts to show the Government is tough on crime.

The Prime Minister scrapped Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's "too lenient" plans to let offenders who plead guilty out of jail early, saying: "Public confidence isn't a side-issue in this debate, it is the issue."

Under a raft of tough new measures, anyone who threatens a potential victim with a knife will face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail and more foreign prisoners will be removed from the UK.

Foreign nationals serving indeterminate sentences will be deported once they have served their minimum jail term and those who have no right to stay in the UK will be offered a caution if they leave.

But the changes to Mr Clarke's proposals mean savings of £130 million will have to be found elsewhere, with probation a likely target.

And the "tough" new approach to knife crime is expected to need just 100 more prison places, an impact assessment by the Ministry of Justice showed.

While the justice Bill could save 2,650 prison places, Mr Cameron also plans to review the use of indeterminate jail sentences for public protection, saying they could be replaced with "a greater number of life sentences".

The Prime Minister added that "mandatory life sentences for the most serious repeat offenders" could be brought back and serious, sexual and violent offenders would have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence, rather than being let out at the half-way point.

"The public need to know that dangerous criminals will be locked up for a very long time," Mr Cameron said.

But the Prime Minister also rejected calls from Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, for Mr Clarke to be sacked, saying he had a "hugely difficult job to do in trying to deliver more for less".


From Belfast Telegraph