Jail sentences toughened

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The Independent Online
Repeat drug dealers will be jailed for a minimum of eight years and criminals convicted of three or more burglaries will be locked up for at least three years, under new government proposals. Time off for good behaviour will be cut from 50 per cent of a sentence to 15 per cent.

The sentencing package, which will include proposals for life sentences for second-time rapists, armed robbers and sexual offenders, has caused a major rift between the Treasury and the Home Office. It is understood that the Treasury has estimated the plan, to be published in a White Paper in the next month, will increase the jail population by 66 per cent and will cost an extra pounds 2.6bn for 40 new jails to house the extra inmates. There will also be an extra pounds 480m in running costs.

Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers said: "It's difficult to see how the package of measures can ever see the light of day - it has horrendous resource implications. Ministers are using power without responsibility."