Political News Updates


Life Imprisonment

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many offenders have been released from one life sentence before being given another life sentence in each of the last 30 years; and in each such case (a) how long the offender spent in prison for the earlier life sentence, (b) how long the offender had been ordered to serve as a minimum period for the latest life sentence, (c) on what dates each life sentence was given, (d) what the offences were for which the offender received each life sentence and (e) what all the offences committed by that offender prior to the latest life sentence were; [197882]
(2) how many people have been given more than one life sentence on separate sentencing occasions in the last 30 years; and for what offences each person received each such life sentence. [197841]

Jeremy Wright: A life sentence is mandatory for murder and discretionary life sentences are available for other very serious offences. This Government has introduced an automatic life sentence for a second very serious violent or sexual offence.

Under a life sentence, the court determines the minimum period to be served in prison for the purposes of punishment and deterrence. Once that period has been served it is for the Parole Board to determine if and when the offender may be released from prison on life licence and subject to recall for the rest of their life.

Table 1, which will be placed in the Library, shows the number of offenders who have been sentenced to life in the 12 months ending September 2013 who previously had one or more previous life sentence on a separate sentencing occasion within the last 30 years, in England and Wales. The table also shows details of their latest and previous offences for which they received a life sentence.

Reoffending rates for life sentenced prisoners are very low. A small number of life sentence prisoners commit offences in prison which result in a second life sentence. Some life sentence prisoners can also receive a second life sentence on conviction for offences committed prior to being imprisoned (eg a previous murder or rape).

The figures provided have been drawn from an extract of the Police National Computer (PNC) data held by the Department. The PNC holds details of all convictions and cautions given for recordable offences committed in England and Wales. In addition, as with any large scale recording system the PNC is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Detailed information on the length of time served by individual life sentence prisoners, and offence information is not readily available, so I will write to my hon. Friend.