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Jail terms of 20+ years ‘quadruple’ in England and Wales over past decade

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Jail terms of 20+ years ‘quadruple’ in England and Wales over past decade

The number of people sentenced to more than 20 years in prison has quadrupled over the last decade, figures have shown.

Given the increase in average tariff lengths handed down by courts, this figure is expected to continue to rise substantially over coming years.

The findings come as the Ministry of Justice announces plans to build more prisons to house the growing number of longterm inmates. They also follow a public outcry over the murder of Sarah Everard, whose killer Wayne Couzens has been given a full-life tariff.

Figures obtained by the Prison Reform Trust from parliamentary questions and government figures show 10,988 prisoners were serving 10 years or more on 31 December 2020.

Growing numbers have also received long determinate sentences of 20 years or more. In 2019, 124 people were sentenced to custody for 20+ years excluding life sentences, up from 31 a decade earlier.

Meanwhile, the rate and number of violent offences resulting in injury have fallen and remain historically low. Between 2009 and 2019 the incidence of violent crimes that resulted in injury, as reported in the Crime Survey for England and Wales, fell 44%, from 22 in every 1,000 adults to 13 in every 1,000. Despite some fluctuation, the number of sexual assaults remains broadly similar to a decade ago.

Dr David Maguire, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s Building Futures project, said: “Over the last decade sentences for more serious crimes have been getting longer, with many more people spending periods in prison which would have previously been unimaginable. The impact on both prison and probation services is significant and long-term, and meeting the challenges of this change will shape the landscape for years to come.”

The Home Office and Ministry of Justice are braced for an increase in prisoners, to 98,700 in 2026, after the targeted recruitment of 20,000 police officers in line with Boris Johnson’s election promise.

England and Wales already has the third highest prison population across Europe, behind Russia and Turkey, which dwarf it with their combined total of more than 800,000, according to the Council of Europe.

The figures came as the backlog of cases in the crown court rose yet again to record levels at 60,692, almost doubling in two years. Cases of rape and sexual offences make up about a 10th of the backlog.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “This government is making sure violent criminals and sex offenders spend longer in prison to keep people safe and give victims confidence that justice has been served. The 18,000 new prison places we are building will keep these dangerous people off the streets for longer.”

Last year, the government changed the law so those convicted of serious sexual and violent offences and given a standard determinate sentence of seven years or more would no longer be automatically released at the halfway point but would instead have to serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison.

The police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, which is currently before parliament, will end the halfway release of offenders sentenced to four to seven years in prison for serious violent and sexual offences such as rape, manslaughter and GBH with intent. They will also have to spend two-thirds of their time behind bars.

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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