Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Thursday, 20 July 2006 17:58 UK

At-a-glance: justice reforms

An at-a-glance guide to plans to reform the criminal justice system.


  • Criminals who plead guilty despite being caught red-handed will no longer automatically have their sentence cut by a third

  • Ministers are to consult on how to end the rules where people serving a life sentence can automatically considered for parole half way through their term

  • Judges could get more discretion to say that non-violent/less serious violent offenders should serve more than half of their sentences in jail

  • Rules which mean offenders who are re-sentenced when the government appeals against lenient sentences should see their time in jail cut to take account of the distress of being sentenced again

  • The maximum sentence for knife possession will be increased from two to four years through new laws


  • Ensure all members of parole boards who decide on seriously violent or sex offenders can show they understand the plight of victims

  • The views of victims will be put to the parole board in the most serious cases

  • All prosecutors will have to take a new pledge to protect the interests of victims

  • The government is consulting on how it can make it easier for crime victims to sue offenders who get a cash windfall after their crime. It comes after a victim of millionaire rapist Iorworth Hoare, who later won the Lottery, lost her appeal for damages against her attacker

  • Ministers also plan to make violent criminals pay for their victims' medical treatment


  • Human Rights Act will not be repealed or amended

  • Frontline staff who use the act in their everyday work will get "robust" guidance to dispel "myths" about criminals' rights

  • New laws will be used, if necessary, to ensure all criminal justice agencies have a clear duty to protect the public

  • Ministers are to consult on how to ensure people who the courts agree are guilty cannot go free because of irregularities in procedure


  • Create an integrated service by 2007/8 to enforce bail and community service orders

  • Consult on new targets for returning people to break bail conditions to court

  • New powers to ensure courts presume that defendants who abscond and offend while on bail are remanded in custody

  • Ensure that criminals who break the conditions of their licence when they leave prison can be quickly returned to custody

  • Consult on giving probation officers the power to change the punishment a criminal gets depending on their behaviour - without going back to court

  • Consult on ambitious new targets for seizing criminals' assets


  • Create an extra 8,000 prison places

  • Make more foreign criminals serve their sentences in their home countries, freeing up more prison places. Also have fewer vulnerable women and mentally ill people in jails.

  • New laws to introduce violent offender orders, which give the courts powers to put restrictions on criminals after they finish their sentences


  • Give communities more power to choose what community service projects offenders should do

  • Roll out a new work programme to improve the response to race and religious hate crimes

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