Don Foster MP

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Government to scrap plans to let off rapists early

July 28, 2023 by admin in News

The Government is set to abandon plans to allow rapists and violent criminals only to serve half of their jail terms. The news comes in the wake of the row caused by comments from Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, in which he suggested not all rapes were serious. Mr Clarke infuriated victims after seeking to defend a proposal to halve rapists’ prison sentences if they pleaded guilty.

Last night Mr Clarke was due to appear in an edition of BBC1′s Question Time, filmed in front of an audience including a dozen prisoners in a London jail.
Whitehall sources said that it was likely ministers were going only to bring in the measure for non-violent crimes. The about-turn brings the Government into line with the thinking of senior police chiefs, who support not applying offered the deal to violent criminals.

The proposal came under more fire yesterday from a senior Liberal Democrat MP. Sir Alan Beith, the chairman of the Commons’ Justice select committee, said: “Rapists will not be able to only serve half of their sentence if they plead guilty.”

Sir Alan cautioned that discounted sentences for rapists could lead to punishments that were not “commensurate” with the public’s view of the crime.
“There’s a very serious risk that the level at which the offence is treated will not be commensurate with the general public view of how serious it is.”
Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat MP, said that Ken Clarke’s comments were “a clumsy way of speaking”, but that he was right to stay in his position.

“The crucial thing is that there is a really important debate to be had about two issues. The first is that, at the moment, only 6 per cent of reported rapes actually lead to a prosecution. We have to deal with that. The second, which is controversial, is if we take that discount for somebody who says they immediately accept they are guilty, would that mean that the victims have to go through less trauma and anguish?”

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