Sentence cuts 'create more victims'

Government plans to cut prison sentences in half for offenders who plead guilty risk creating more victims, Labour leader Ed Miliband warned today.

Mr Miliband - who this week called for Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke to be sacked - said that the Government's prison and police policies were driven by the need to cut costs, not the need to make the streets safer.



His warning came after Mr Clarke admitted he had "upset a lot of people" with his comments on the effect of the sentencing proposals on sex offenders.



Speaking on BBC1's Question Time last night, the veteran minister said he was wrong to describe some rapes as "proper" and "serious", leaving the impression that he regarded others as not being serious.



But Mr Clarke stopped short of offering a full apology and insisted the Government was still considering plans to halve sentences for all criminals who admit their guilt at their first chance to enter a plea after being charged.



"I obviously upset a lot of people by what I said and I'm sorry if I did, by the way I put it," said Mr Clarke.



"All rape is serious. It's one of the gravest crimes."



Mr Clarke said his sentencing proposals, which would see the maximum possible "discount" for an early guilty plea increased from 33% to 50%, would apply to every crime.



He insisted: "My reform proposals don't affect the sentencing framework for rape or any other crime."



Downing Street has raised doubts over whether the plea-bargaining reforms will go ahead as planned by the Justice Secretary, telling reporters that ministers are "still listening" to critics, and have not finalised their proposals.



Mr Miliband today used an article in The Independent to warn against the change.



"Halving sentences for violent criminals including rapists who plead guilty will do nothing to increase safety on our streets and it gives prison reform a bad name," said the Labour leader.



Mr Miliband accused Mr Clarke and Prime Minister David Cameron of being "woefully out of touch with the real world".



"Their prison policy is based not on the need for reform or increased rehabilitation for offenders. It is based on the need to cut costs," he wrote.



"Their police policy isn't based on what will make the streets safer, but how to quickly find a 20% cut in the police budget.



"By reducing the number of police on our streets, by halving sentences for violent offenders, the Government are risking creating more victims.



"They are failing a very simple test. They are not making our communities safer now or for the future."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Artworker

£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...

Guru Careers: Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engineer / Customer Support Exec

£16 - 18k: Guru Careers: A Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Software Programmer / Developer

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This ambitious and friendly sof...

Recruitment Genius: Software Sales Executive - OTE £80,000

£50000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company has been ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935