New sentences and criminal offences come into effect
New offences and provisions came into effect on the 3 December 2012.
The new offences are:
- aggravated knife possession – where anyone who uses a knife or offensive weapon to threaten and endanger others will face a mandatory custodial sentence, and
- causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum five year custodial sentence.
Alongside these comes a mandatory life sentence for those who are convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent crime and together with others form part of a wide range of provisions introduced in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.
Other provisions include:
- New Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) – new sentence for dangerous criminals convicted of serious sexual and violent crimes with no automatic release from prison halfway through their sentence. They will only be released when they have served at least two-thirds of their prison sentence and may be kept inside prison until the end of their term;
- Tough new sentences for hate crime – the starting point has been raised from 15 years to 30 years in prison for those convicted of murder motivated by hatred or hostility towards disability or transgender people, bringing the sentencing in line with murders aggravated by race, religion and sexual orientation;
- Tougher community sentences – increase in the maximum length of a curfew requirement in a community sentence from 6 to 12 months, increasing the maximum period of time criminals can be subject to a curfew from 12 to 16 hours per day and introducing foreign travel bans; and
- the right for prosecutors to challenge Crown Court bail decisions where there is serious risk of harm to a member of the public.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
‘Criminals should be in no doubt they will be punished for their crimes, with those who commit the most serious offences receiving the most severe sentences.
‘Anyone who commits two very serious sexual or violent offences will get a life sentence, those who try to destroy our communities by threatening and endangering people with knives will face a mandatory custodial sentence and those who devastate lives by dangerous driving will face the harshest penalties.’
In addition, the LASPO Act 2012 contains a number of provisions to reform sentencing, reduce offending and reform legal aid. The measures in the Act are being enacted in stages, a new criminal offence of squatting came into effect in September 2012. The remaining provisions will come into effect in 2013.