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Justice Committee: Chair comment on King’s Speech

7 November 2023

The King’s Speech announced a bill will be brought forward to ensure tougher sentences for the most serious offenders and increase the confidence of victims.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP (Con, Bromley & Chislehurst), said:  

“There is unlikely to be any political opposition to increase the severity of sentences for the most serious offenders, as our polling showed that the public support it. However, it is important that the measures announced are subject to rigorous scrutiny, particularly to identify any potential unintended consequences of the changes proposed to sentencing.

“Our report entitled ‘Public opinion and understanding of sentencing’ showed that there is a problem with a lack of a coherent approach to sentencing policy, in particular insufficient analysis of the potential effect on the prison population.”

The Justice Committee published its report on 25 October entitled ‘Public opinion and understanding of sentencing’, warning that public debate on sentencing is “stuck in a dysfunctional and reactive cycle”.

The cross-party committee of MPs called on Government and Parliament to identify where there may be genuine and sustained gaps between sentencing policy and public opinion.

It concluded the persistence of the view among the public that the system is not severe enough, represents a “significant long-term public policy challenge that needs to be addressed”.

The Committee’s report recommended that the Government should seek to actively engage the public on sentencing policy but should do so in a structured and methodologically rigorous fashion. It said that deliberative engagement exercises with members of the public should form part of the policy development process.

Further information

Image credit: Parliamentary copyright