Closed petition Abolish time limit for requesting sentences for child murder be reviewed

I would like families of murdered children to be able to request the sentence be reviewed, without any time limit. It is possible to ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed, but applications must be made within 28 days of sentencing. This time limit should be abolished.

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In 2007 my son was murdered by my ex partner, he was sentenced to 17 years (IPP) I received an email from witness support saying he will be considered for parole in 2 years. He will be able to start a new life if released while my son's was taken away from him.

Since 2014 I have been fighting for longer sentencing for these evil people but my voice was never heard. I think now is the time to listen. Families don't deserve the worry of these monsters ever released.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 18 January 2022

The government has no plans to abolish the time limit for referrals made under the unduly lenient sentence scheme which provides finality. We keep the scheme under review, including the 28 day limit.

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We were very sorry to read of the murder of Ms Rose’s son in such horrendous circumstances. Our sympathies are with her and all those affected by this terrible crime.

The unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme allows anyone to ask for certain sentences imposed by the Crown Court to be considered by the Law Officers, where the sentence is felt to be unduly lenient. The Law Officers may then decide to refer the case to the Court of Appeal, who may decide that the sentence should be increased. A referral to the Court of Appeal must be made within 28 days of the sentence being imposed.

The general rule is that a person should expect to serve the sentence imposed by the court. The ULS scheme is a rare exception to this rule and is therefore tightly circumscribed. It is important for both victims and offenders that we avoid ongoing uncertainty about the sentence to be served. The 28 day time limit reflects similar constraints on defendants appealing against conviction or sentence, but it is necessarily stricter to ensure certainty about whether a person will be more severely punished or not.

As part of our continuing review of the ULS scheme the government will keep the 28 day time limit under consideration. We have no plans, however, to remove the certainty afforded by a time limit for referrals.

The government recognises the importance of victims, prosecuting authorities and members of the public being aware of the ULS scheme. The revised Code of Practice for Victims of Crime - the Victim’s Code, which came into force on 1 April 2021- provides victims with the right to be informed about the existence of the scheme and includes a requirement for the Witness Care Unit to inform victims about the scheme promptly when sentencing takes place.

All offenders convicted of murder must receive a life sentence. When a life sentence is imposed, the court has to determine the minimum period to be served in custody (the tariff). Only when this period has been served in full may the offender be considered for release by the Parole Board, which will only release a prisoner if it is satisfied that it is safe to do so.

Many offenders remain in prison beyond their minimum term, and some may never be released. If and when the offender is released, he or she will remain on licence for the rest of their life and be subject to recall to prison at any time. A life sentence does, therefore, remain in force for the whole of the offender’s life, and an offender could spend their life in prison.

Whole life orders are the most severe form of punishment that the courts can impose; such sentences have no tariffs and no possibility of parole board release, and as such they are reserved for the most heinous cases of murder.

This government is strengthening the law in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament, to ensure the most serious offenders spend longer in prison. This Bill will ensure that all cases of premeditated child murder will carry a whole life order as a starting point. Provisions in this Bill will also ensure that any adult offender who receives a standard determinate sentence of 4 years or more for certain serious violent and sexual offences will serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody, instead of being released automatically at the halfway point. Those serving a life sentence for offences other than murder will also spend longer in prison before being considered for release. We are also increasing the maximum penalties for child cruelty offences including raising the maximum penalty for causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult from 14 year’s imprisonment to life imprisonment.

Ministry of Justice