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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Q&A: Blunkett explains plans

David Blunkett has announced he wants Parliament to set the framework for sentencing of those convicted of murder.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme he explained his thinking when it comes to sentencing murderers.

What do you hope to achieve?

What I'm doing is asking Parliament to lay down a framework in which life will mean life; in which the least of current sentences, where there's no minimum, will be 15 years and where the very serious crimes that aren't multiple, or pre-meditated or sadistic murder, sentence will be 30 instead of 20 years.

I think most people will cheer and say we want a framework where we have confidence, we have clarity, we have consistency and this enables us to act more sensibly in terms of non-murder cases where we may want to introduce different forms of sentencing.

What of criticisms by the judiciary that you are treading on their toes?

I've decided that I will ask Parliament to lay down this framework of principles so that it's Parliament that decides the structure, it will be judges that act within it.

When we had the death penalty there were very clear parameters within which judges believed meant they had to condemn someone to death.

In the most horrendous circumstances the public will know that unlike in the past, it will not be us committing judicial murder but we will mean life means life and that person is safely away.

I have a duty and my first duty actually as home secretary is to protect the public.

It's all about the security, the lifting of fear, an environment in which we can have progressive, sensible debates.

Why is this system better than when home secretaries set the minimum jail tariff?

I'm much more in favour of what we're doing now because anyone as home secretary who has had to set sentence tariffs reading through in detail, in my own case with staff reading me the kind of material that literally made them weep, would want us to have a framework in which these matters could be dealt with in court.

[It's a framework in which the tariff would be laid down] and in which everyone would be clear that we're no longer going to put up with a situation where people who we know because they've been found guilty, have committed the most terrible crimes, walk away after a few years and people hold their hands up in horror and say that the system isn't working.

Life to mean life for worst crimes
07 May 03  |  Politics

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