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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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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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IPOB Accuses Police Of Blackmail

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has reacted to a statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, linking ESN and IPOB to a planned attack on political campaigns and the forthcoming 2023 elections.

Director of Media and Public Relations of the group, Comrade Emma Powerful, in a statement on Monday, said the IG of Police should “leave IPOB volunteers and ESN Operatives alone to focus on things that matter instead of trying to get them involved in Nigeria Government and its fraudulent political processes.”

He also added that Nigeria’s security agencies were fond of blackmailing the organization with allegations of sundry crimes.

The statement read: “If Nigeria Police have concluded their plans to commit crimes during political campaigns and tag it on IPOB and ESN they will fail as usual.

“Any time Nigeria Security Agencies raise a false alarm, know that they have planned attacks to blackmail IPOB and ESN Operatives but we cannot allow them to continue their business of blackmail.

“These Security agencies have allegedly killed innocent people in an effort to blackmail IPOB but Chukwu Okike Abiama (God) has always vindicated us,” they said.

“We have always maintained that we are not interested in anything that has to do with Nigeria let alone taking any side in their fraudulent political process. IPOB are not Zoo politicians. The only political process that IPOB will participate in is an UN-supervised Biafra Referendum that will usher in Biafra Sovereignty and Independence”, he added.

 

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ASUU: F.G Makes U-turn, Withdraws Circular Ordering Resumption

The Federal Government on Monday withdrew its earlier circular which directed vice chancellors, pro-chancellors and governing councils to re-open federal universities.

This is coming hours after the government, through the National Universities Commission (NUC), directed the opening of varsities in compliance with National Industrial Court order.

A circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 was addressed to all vice chancellors, pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities ordering them to re-open universities.

Hours after, in another circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, which was also signed by the Director, Finance and Account of the NUC, Sam Onazi, the commission withdrew the order.

The letter tagged, “withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022” partly read, “I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 2022 on the above subject.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities are to please note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.

“Please accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”

The university teachers began a one-month warning strike on February 14, 2022, and extended it thrice after the Federal Government failed to meet up with its demands.

 

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