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Minimum Sentence for Murder

Volume 528: debated on Tuesday 24 May 2011

The Petition of supporters of Families Fighting For Justice and others in Wirral, Cheshire, Merseyside,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about the wording of section 170 of the Ministry of Justice Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, regarding the Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, particularly the planned simplification to the minimum terms of life sentences which could result in changes to minimum sentencing.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Ministry of Justice to consider with severe caution any changes to Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to ensure that the length of minimum sentences for murder are not altered so as to reduce the term served.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Esther McVey, Official Report, 11 January 2011; Vol. 521, c. 260.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Justice:

The Government express their deepest sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones through violent crime.

The Government have the following observations to make.

We have absolutely no intention whatsoever of reducing sentences for murder. We are not abolishing the mandatory life sentence for murder, nor are we sanctioning any reduction in the minimum terms imposed for murder. Schedule 21 does not set minimum terms for murder—that is the function of judges. It provides guidance to the courts on assessing the seriousness of cases. Any reform of the guidance will not prevent murderers continuing to receive lengthy minimum terms as part of their life sentence.