Making whole-life orders the starting point for premeditated child murder, instituting mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill emergency workers in the line of duty, and ending the automatic early release of offenders deemed to be a danger to the public are among them.
Most importantly, the Act fulfils the Government’s pledge to strengthen protection for women and girls.
Domestic abuse victims now have more time to report incidents of common assault or battery, and taking non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers is now punishable by up to two years in prison. To keep the public safe, the most violent and sexual offenders, including rapists, will be sentenced to longer prison terms.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, stated:
This administration is following through on its promise to make our streets safer.
We’ve changed the law to ensure that dangerous criminals receive the sentences they deserve and are kept behind bars, and we’re arming cops with the tools they need to keep us safe.
We are well on our way to recruiting 20,000 more police officers, and we will continue to assist victims seeking justice and combat crime so that everyone, in every town, village, and city, has the security and confidence they deserve.
Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice, stated:
Our new laws will require serious offenders, such as sex offenders, child abusers, and those who kill emergency workers in the course of their duties, to spend more time in prison beginning today.
We are also protecting breastfeeding women from being photographed without their consent and allowing victims of domestic abuse to report the crime to the police for a longer period of time to help ensure they receive justice.
Other sentencing reforms that go into effect today include Tony’s Law, which increases the maximum penalties for a variety of child cruelty offences. Furthermore, judges will now be able to sentence dangerous drivers who kill on our roads to life in prison, as well as impose whole-life orders on 18-20-year-olds who commit the most heinous crimes, such as acts of terrorism that result in mass casualties.
The PCSC Act also increases the maximum penalty for assaulting police or other emergency workers, such as prison officers, fire service personnel, or frontline health workers, from 12 months to two years, thereby protecting those who risk their lives to keep communities safe. It will also enact ‘Harper’s Law,’ which will impose mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker while committing a crime.
It will now be a statutory offence to intentionally or recklessly cause public nuisance, ensuring that the penalties for these crimes reflect the severity of the recent rise in guerrilla protest tactics. The police will also be given new powers to deal with nonviolent protests that cause significant disruption to the public or access to Parliament.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, stated:
The laws that go into effect today put the Government’s Beating Crime Plan into action, helping to reduce crime, better protect victims, and make streets safer across the country.
We are meeting the needs of the people. Whether it’s tackling knife crime, violence against women and girls, or anti-social guerilla protest tactics, these policies are all about bolstering the police and protecting the law-abiding majority of the British public.
Also beginning today, police will be able to obtain a search warrant for evidence related to the location of human remains in cases where prosecution is not possible.
The government is also investing £477 million to provide victims with faster justice and to reduce the backlog of court cases caused by the pandemic. This includes raising the cap on Crown Court sitting days for another year in order to ensure that courts can continue to operate at full capacity and avoid delays.
Ministers released a draught Victims’ Bill in May to amplify victims’ voices and hold justice agencies more accountable for the services they provide.
Measures that go into effect today include:
Harper’s Law mandates life sentences for those who unlawfully kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.
Tony’s Law increases the maximum penalties for child cruelty offences, including up to life in prison for those who cause or allow the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their household.
New offences of breastfeeding voyeurism punishable by up to two years in prison
Extending the prosecution time limit for domestic abuse-related common assault and battery charges from 6 months to 6 months after the offence is formally reported to the police, up to a maximum of 2 years.
Whole life sentences will be the starting point for premeditated child murder, as well as allowing judges to impose this maximum punishment on 18-20-year-olds in exceptional cases to reflect the gravity of a crime. Terrorist acts, for example, that result in mass casualties.
New powers to prevent the automatic early release of offenders who pose a public safety risk.
For children who commit murder, new starting points for determining the minimum amount of time in custody based on age and seriousness of offence, and fewer opportunities for over-18s who committed murder as a child to have their minimum term reviewed.
Putting an end to the halfway release of offenders sentenced to 4 to 7 years in prison for serious violent and sexual offences such as rape, manslaughter, and GBH with intent. Instead, they will be required to spend two-thirds of their time in prison.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, ensuring that courts impose at least the minimum sentence for certain offences, such as repeat knife possession and third strike burglary.
Increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to life in prison.
Creating a new offence of causing serious bodily harm through careless driving.
Tougher community sentences increase the amount of time offenders can be subject to curfew restrictions to two years.
Extending ‘positions of trust’ legislation to protect teenagers from abuse by making it illegal for sports coaches and religious leaders to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds.
New rules will allow criminal courts to make the best use of video and audio technology as it develops, eliminating the need for participants to travel to court unnecessarily.
For the first time, profoundly deaf people who require a BSL interpreter will be able to serve on juries. Current laws prohibit the presence of a “stranger” in the jury deliberation room; this will be changed to allow for the presence of a British Sign Language interpreter.
Removing the consideration of monetary value in criminal damage to memorials and ensuring that even ‘low value’ claims can be heard by the Crown Court, resulting in the full range of sentencing powers – including the ten-year maximum – being available.
The maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker has been increased from 12 months to two years.