Page last updated at 20:06 GMT, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

MPs approve plans to scrap indeterminate sentences

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Labour has clashed with the government over plans to scrap indeterminate prison sentences for dangerous offences.

The government has proposed a series of amendments to the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill to replace indeterminate sentences (IPPs), which prevent offenders being freed until the parole board has ruled they no longer pose a danger to the public, with "tough determinate sentences".

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the move would restore public confidence in the criminal justice system, as MPs debated the bill for a second day at report stage on 1 November 2011.

But shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan opposed the policy claiming it would risk public safety.

Presenting the amendments to the Commons Mr Clarke described IPPs, introduced by Labour, as a "stain on the system". He said they were "unclear, inconsistent" and had not worked properly since their introduction.

He added: "What we are doing is replacing a system which did not work as intended with one which gives the fullest possible protection from serious violent and sexual crime."

Mr Khan maintained that the move "risks more crime, risks more victims and risks more dangerous offenders being out on the streets".

Mr Clarke told him the policy would not put more people at risk because judges would continue to have the ability to sentence people to life jail terms.

Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the Justice Select Committee Alan Beith welcomed the government's plans, telling the Commons: "We need effective sentencing planning and more determinate sentences are a better way of achieving that."

But Conservative MP Philip Davies believed it was a "very serious mistake". He said Mr Clarke's only motivation was to cut the prison population and told him he should "be ashamed of himself".

MPs went on to approve the plans by 311 votes to 235, a majority of 76.

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