Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Following the controversial scenes in Bristol over the weekend, the following are some of the ‘highlights’ of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that the government is hoping to enshrine in law in due course.

Police Powers

The bill proposes amendments to the Public Order Act 1986, which civil liberty groups fear could significantly increase police powers to restrict people’s rights to assemble or congregate in public places, for example. It will also increase police powers to stop and search those suspected of carrying a blade, a controversial step given the current racial disparity in how searches are presently carried out.

Criminal Records

The government is proposing to reduce the time that previous convictions have to be disclosed to future employers for sentences under four years’ imprisonment and community orders. There are also plans to introduce a rehabilitation period for certain jobs where the sentence exceeds four years.

Out of Court Disposals

As there is significant evidence that diverting people from the criminal justice system reduces the likelihood of future reoffending, greater powers are proposed, such as diversion to address, for example, addiction or mental health issues.

Problem Solving Courts

There will be greater emphasis on courts to offer more intensive and structured support with rewards and incentives for progress but sanctions for disengagement. The aim is that such orders will be more responsive to the individual’s need and reduce reoffending in the process.

Increased Sentencing Powers

The maximum sentence for assault on an emergency worker will double from 12 months to two years.

  • Whole life orders (life imprisonment) will be imposed for child killers.
  • Causing death by dangerous driving will be increased to a maximum of life imprisonment.
  • Offenders sentenced for serious violent or sexual offences will no longer be automatically released at the halfway point of their sentence.

It will be interesting to see how much opposition the government faces in trying to enact the bill. If all of the proposals are passed, it will inevitably lead to more prison sentences being imposed for longer periods at a time when the prison estate is already under immense pressure due to numbers and underfunding. Please contact our crime team for more information.