Sussex PCC responds to new measures coming into force to better protect the public and make our streets safer


Sussex PCC responds to new measures coming into force to better protect the public and make our streets safer

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne welcomes a variety of new measures put in place by Government as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.

The new measures will see an overhaul of sentencing laws to make our streets safer and ensure that serious violent and sexual offenders spend longer behind bars.

The reforms will also help to cut crime and protect the public more effectively as well as introduce new powers to manage serious disruption caused by protests. Included in the measures are mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty, known as Harper’s Law.

Responding to this, Mrs Bourne says: “Emergency workers risk their lives every day, they are often the very first people on the scene and they do everything possible to save lives. Harper's Law will provide a level of extra protection and make sure that those who unlawfully kill an on-duty emergency worker will face the severest of sentences.”

There are also measures to protect victims of domestic abuse (DA). These will extend the current time limit for prosecution of DA offences, giving victims more time to report.

Mrs Bourne continues: “It’s great to see these new reforms come into place today and to see crimes such as burglary and knife crime being taken seriously with the introduction of minimum sentences.

"These changes tackle a variety of different crimes and take into account how even ‘low-value’ claims can still have a detrimental impact on some people. They help to ensure that police can continue to fight crime, make our streets safer, protect victims and that offenders will face robust repercussions.”

Measures include:

  • Mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty, known as Harper’s Law.
  • Increasing the maximum penalties for child cruelty offences, including up to life imprisonment for those who cause or allow the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their household, known as Tony’s Law.
  • Extending the prosecution time limit for domestic abuse-related common assault and battery charges from 6 months of the offence to 6 months of it being formally reported to the police, up to a maximum of 2 years.
  • Whole life orders will be the starting point for the premeditated murder of a child as well as enabling judges to hand out this maximum punishment to 18-20-year-olds in exceptional cases to reflect the gravity of a crime. For example, acts of terrorism which lead to mass loss of life.
  • New powers to halt the automatic early release of offenders who pose a danger to the public.
  • For children who commit murder, introducing new starting points for deciding the minimum amount of time in custody based on age and seriousness of offence, and reducing the opportunities for over 18s who committed murder as a child to have their minimum term reviewed.
  • Ending the halfway release of offenders sentenced to between 4 and 7 years in prison for serious violent and sexual offences such as rape, manslaughter and GBH with intent. Instead, they will have to spend two-thirds of their time behind bars.
  • Ensuring the courts pass at least the minimum sentence for certain offences, including repeat knife possession and third strike burglary, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Increasing the maximum penalty to life for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs.
  • Creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.
  • Tougher community sentences which double the amount of time offenders can be subject to curfew restrictions to 2 years.
  • Creation of new offences of breastfeeding voyeurism punishable with up to 2 years in custody.
  • Extended ‘positions of trusts’ laws to protect teenagers from abuse by making it illegal for sports coaches and religious leaders to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds.
  • New rules to end the need for participants to travel unnecessarily to court by allowing criminal courts to maximise the use of video and audio technology as it develops.
  • For the first time enabling profoundly deaf people who need a BSL interpreter to sit on juries. Current laws ban the presence of a ‘stranger’ being in the jury deliberation room – this will be scrapped and instead allow a British Sign Language interpreter into the room.
  • Removing the consideration of monetary value with respect to criminal damage to memorials and ensuring that even ‘low value’ claims can be heard by the Crown Court, with the result that the full range of sentencing powers will be available – including the ten-year maximum
  • Doubling the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to 2 years.