Skip to main content

Sentencing Policy

Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 18 September 2012

16. If he will take steps to ensure that time served in prison by a prisoner reflects the sentence handed down to that prisoner by the court. (121196)

Prisoners must be released in accordance with the legislation laid down by Parliament. Parliament has consistently maintained the view that custodial sentences should be served in part in custody and in part in the community. Sentencers take that into account when determining the appropriate sentence in each case.

I warmly welcome the Minister and the Secretary of State to their roles, particularly given that I tried over the past couple of years to get their predecessors sacked. The Labour Government left us with a situation in which prisoners now have to be released halfway through their sentences, irrespective of how they behave in prison. Does the Minister think that is an acceptable state of affairs and, if not, what does he intend to do about it?

I am grateful to be in line for the same kind of treatment as my predecessor. My hon. Friend will find that I agree with him on many things, but I do not entirely agree with him on this. I think that there is merit in having a period, after a custodial sentence has been served in custody, when we can supervise and monitor offenders and send them back if they misbehave, so I am not in favour, as I know he is, of an entire sentence being served in custody. However, I think that there is scope for reform in sentencing, and we shall certainly look at those opportunities carefully.