Criminal Justice at the Heart of the King’s Speech

In a resolute commitment to making the United Kingdom a safer place, the government’s latest legislative program, encapsulated in the King’s Speech, is set to revolutionize the criminal justice system. This comprehensive overhaul aims to keep violent criminals behind bars for more extended periods while placing victims at the forefront of the legal process. This transformative agenda is poised to shape a better, more secure Britain by ensuring that the most reprehensible offenders remain incarcerated, with life sentences for the most heinous crimes and stronger measures to protect victims.

The heart of the King’s Speech is the new Sentencing Bill, which targets the most violent and dangerous criminals in our society. Under this legislation, those found guilty of the most heinous murders, particularly those involving sexual or sadistic conduct, will face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison. This seismic change is a shift in the government’s resolve to ensure that life means life for these criminals, with Whole Life Orders becoming the norm, and judges only having discretion in exceptional cases.

Furthermore, the Sentencing Bill ensures that vile criminals who commit rape and other serious sexual offenses will serve the full extent of their sentences behind bars. This is a substantial departure from the situation in 2010 when only 50% of their sentences were served in prison. It is a clear message that the government is determined to hold perpetrators of such heinous acts accountable for their actions.

One of the most significant innovations in the King’s Speech is the emphasis on giving victims a voice and ensuring that they play a central role in the criminal justice process. The Criminal Justice Bill will empower judges to compel horrific criminals to attend court during sentencing, allowing them to hear directly from victims. This move aims to make offenders confront the consequences of their actions and understand the suffering they have caused. Moreover, the bill introduces a provision allowing reasonable force to be used to ensure offenders appear in court. Those who refuse to comply could face additional prison time, further deterring non-compliance.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in discussing these groundbreaking changes, emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to the safety of its citizens. He expressed the vision of a safer, more secure Britain, highlighting the significant reduction in violent crime and domestic burglary rates since 2010. Sunak stressed the importance of continuously improving the country’s long-term criminal justice policies, with a specific focus on keeping the most dangerous offenders off the streets.

To further ensure that the worst offenders remain incarcerated for an extended period, the King’s Speech introduces the creation of a statutory aggravating factor at sentencing for grooming gang members and their leaders, as well as for murders committed at the end of a relationship. This will lead to tougher sentences for individuals involved in such crimes, reflecting the government’s determination to protect the most vulnerable in society and ensure justice is served.

The government is also advancing the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which underscores the paramount importance of victims in the justice system. This legislation grants the government the authority to halt the parole of the most dangerous offenders and prevents them from marrying while in prison. These measures serve to protect victims and the broader public by keeping violent criminals incarcerated.

In an effort to tackle everyday crime and anti-social behavior, the King’s Speech extends significant powers to the police. The police will now be able to enter premises without a warrant to seize stolen goods, such as phones, based on reasonable proof that a specific stolen item is present. This newfound authority will aid the police in recovering stolen property, offering relief to victims and their families while deterring potential criminals.

In response to the rapidly changing landscape of technology and the challenges it poses, the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill is set to bolster the capabilities of the UK’s intelligence agencies. This bill ensures that these agencies have the tools required to combat evolving threats posed by terrorists, hostile state actors, child abusers, and criminal gangs. By updating the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act, the government ensures that the UK’s investigatory powers framework remains relevant and effective in the face of emerging technologies.

The King’s Speech builds upon the government’s extensive efforts to reduce crime and enhance public safety. It is supported by the deployment of 20,000 new police officers and the largest prison building program in a century, which will add more than 20,000 prison places. This holistic approach aims to create a safer and more secure environment for all citizens.

Image source, The Royal Family social media feed