Rhys Burriss presents his ideas for a manifesto commitment on the justice system.

1]     Minimum sentence to be served of 30 Years for all convicted of murder.
Current mandatory sentence of Life to remain as the nominal sentence, but 
minimum thirty years to be served.  This is a very big change  from current practice (which often lets murderers out after 10 or so years, sometimes less)  and is designed specifically to both deter and to contain (where deterrence has not worked) the most dangerous criminals.

If ever the need for such a change were proven it is in the recently reported case where a spurned boyfriend actually looked up on Google what sentence he could expect to receive for murder (suitably reassured he then, in broad daylight, stab to death his ex girlfriend who had broken with him and her new boyfriend – grotesque but true). 

(Nb: no specific change proposed for manslaughter cases where culpability/wickedness are more nuanced and on a wider spectrum); 

2]     Crown Prosecution Service to be abolished, with all prosecutorial decisions to be returned to the individual police forces (who would establish in-house legal departments to advise/represent in cases of particular complexity/ seriousness ). Individuals charged by police to be brought before (or bailed to) the next available sitting of the local Magistrates’ Court; 

3]     Magistrates’ Courts’ powers to be increased to three years’ imprisonment (thus avoiding the current need to transfer accused in many cases to the Crown Court); 

4]     Third and subsequent convictions for burglary/theft of and from motor vehicles/assault occasioning grievous bodily harm/carrying of knives and other bladed weapons to be met with minimum mandatory sentences of three years’ imprisonment;

5]     Privatisations of prison and probation service to be stopped forthwith and reversed (re nationalised, if you like) where they have already occurred;

6]     Recruitment as probation officers of recently retired police and army officers to be encouraged by making the simple fact of having served for at least 10 years in that capacity sufficient qualification for appointment as probation officers (in other words moving the service (which UKIP values highly) away from the concept of recruitment of persons in their 20s with academic degrees and in favour of staffing the service with persons with many years’ relevant work and life experience).

In my respectful view the above  six policies would represent a substantial improvement to the way society/the law currently deals with serious and repeat law breakers.  The policies  ought also to have considerable resonance with the general public.

Further in my view the above six policies are entirely sufficient of themselves to be UKIP’s ‘offer’ to the public at this election, however worthy other/additional policies might be – dealing with in-prison discipline for example, or actual numbers of prison officers. I believe such policies would be  getting us into detail which the public generally will have no appetite for and could distract from the key six policies  proposed above.

As to costings, quite simply there is no way, certainly not in the time available, to provide detailed, quantified costings  –  but when asked we need to argue that the six policies are quite simply ‘the right thing to do’. Some will provide savings (increase of Magistrates’ Courts’ powers/abolition of the CPS) and some may require additional expenditure, such as the increased numbers in prison occasioned by minimum mandatory sentences and the increase in sentences to be served by convicted murderers.   

However, even the latter is not certain, as we may reasonably hope that some intending murderers will be deterred by the prospect of a genuinely long period of incarceration if convicted. 

In my view we do not need to seek to provide detailed costings of specific policies. The value of them is signalling to the general public where we stand, on a broad brush basis, on important issues of law and order (how the great majority of law abiding people need to be protected from the very small minority of career and repeat evil-doers).

UKIP believes such policies to be necessary in the wider interests of society in reducing violent crime and that the costs will simply have to be absorbed.   Over time effective deterrence policies will reduce actual offending, which should reduce (over time) the need for imprisonment, but we accept that for a period, until potential criminals realise ‘ the game is not worth the candle’ there will be an increase in numbers of persons imprisoned. So be it. 

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