The landscape for the sentencing of criminal offenders changed significantly yesterday, after a number of key provisions relating to the sentencing of offenders came into force.
The changes were included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and include a new 'two strikes' rule, which effectively hands an automatic life sentence to anyone committed of a second serious sexual or violent offence.
Prior to yesterday, the only offence that carried a mandatory life sentence was murder.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 also includes a new Extended Determinate Sentence, which will apply to serious violent and sexual crimes including armed robbery, rape and GBH with intent.
Under the provisions of the new Act, those handed an Extended Determinate Sentence would be required to serve a minimum of two thirds of their stated sentence. Previously such offenders would have been eligible for parole after serving one half.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has abolished two controversial sentences that were previously included in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 relating to dangerous offenders. Imprisonment for Public Protection and the old Extended Sentences have both now been replaced with the Extended Determinate Sentences.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 also includes new offences relating to knife crime, including an offence of aggravated possession of a knife, whereby anyone caught with a knife with the intention of threatening or harming another will face an automatic custodial sentence.
The Act also introduces a new 30-year minimum prison sentence for any murder driven by hatred based on a person's disability or transgender status.
Speaking on the 'two strikes' rule, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Everyone deserves a second chance. If they don't use that second chance they go to prison for life."