Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, commenting on sentencing ahead of the Second reading debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill tomorrow, said:
“There is a £140 million hole in the Ministry of Justice budget and uncosted proposals announced at the last minute which haven’t yet been added to the Bill. As a result, further cuts are likely to fall on an already overstretched probation service and prison estate, making it harder to rehabilitate offenders and ensure public safety is protected.
“The plan to limit the use of remand in custody is purely a measure to cut costs and reduce prison numbers, which undermines a vital tool judges and magistrates should have at their disposal. It is for judges and magistrates, who know the full facts of the case, the risk to the public of individual defendants and the impact their release on bail may have on victims and witnesses, to decide whether they should be remanded in custody, not for this Government to dictate.
“The Secretary of State announced several months ago his intention to reform the system of Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection, but after 13 months of government, several green papers and a Sentencing Bill, we are still unclear of what his proposals are. Labour’s position is clear – offenders must be rehabilitated and not pose a risk to the public and proper due process must be followed before their release. We will not accept plans that water-down the protection given to the public by Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection.
“This Government is out of touch with public concerns on crime and justice. Their cuts to front line and experienced police, probation and prison officers could have dire consequences for communities across the country and their bid to cut costs and prison places seem to come before their duty to protect the public and support victims. For these reasons, Labour cannot support this Bill.”