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No early exit: Worst criminals to lose automatic right to be released half-way through jail sentences, Justice Secretary to announce

At present offenders serving determinate sentences are let out on licence once they have served half their time behind bars

Hundreds of violent criminals, including terrorists, child rapists and paedophiles, are to lose their automatic right to be released half-way through their jail sentences, the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, will announce.

The move, which will require legislation in the New Year, will affect about 600 prison inmates a year.

At the moment offenders serving determinate sentences – those where the court fixes a maximum sentence – are let out on licence once they have served half their time behind bars.

Mr Grayling will announce the right is to be withdrawn from offenders in 15 categories, including people convicted of terrorism and sexual offences against children.

In future they will only be freed before their sentence ends if independent Parole Board approves their release. It will have to be satisfied that prisoners no longer pose a threat to society and are committed to ending their offending behaviour.

The Justice Secretary said: “It’s outrageous that offenders who commit some truly horrific crimes in this country are automatically released from prison halfway through their custodial sentence, regardless of their behaviour, attitude and engagement in their own rehabilitation.

“We need to teach criminals a lesson – you will be punished for your crime and you must earn your release, it is not an automatic right.”

In addition, criminals who receive an Extended Determinate Sentence – when an offender receives a jail sentence plus a further period of licence – will no longer be released automatically two-thirds of the way into their sentence.

Under the moves, every offender who receives an EDS will only be released into the community before the end of their prison sentence if the Parole Board believe they no longer a danger to society.

Last week Mr Grayling said he was scrapping simple cautions, which do not involve any form of punishment, for serious crimes such as rape, manslaughter and robbery.

Police will no longer use them for sexual offences against children such as child prostitution or pornography, possession of an offensive weapon or supplying class-A drugs, he said.