Tories to pledge homicide law overhaul with US-style classifications

Estimated read time 3 min read

Rishi Sunak will reportedly pledge an overhaul of homicide laws, introducing US-style classifications for murder and increasing sentences, as part of the Conservative manifesto.

The proposals would include a tiered system of first- and second-degree murder, as well as increasing the minimum sentence for murders that take place in the home from 15 to 25 years.

The Conservatives will promise to commit to wider reforms of homicide legislation if they win the election, the Times reported, including a review to tackle loopholes and anomalies in sentencing, in what could be the biggest shake-up since the Homicide Act in 1957.

Under the proposals first-degree murder would apply only to those who kill intentionally and would result in an automatic life sentence, in effect similar to current laws.

Second-degree murder would apply to cases where the offender intended to do serious injury or where there is a partial defence to what would otherwise be first-degree murder. Sentencing would be left to the discretion of the judge but would include the option of a life sentence.

Creating a tiered classification of murder would also enable some forms of manslaughter to be considered second-degree murder.

The manifesto will also promise to raise the minimum tariff for people who kill inside the home, with the intention to give tougher sentences to domestic abusers.

It is understood the prime minister became interested in the issue of homicide law after speaking to the families of the victims of killer Valdo Calocane, who fatally stabbed three people in Nottingham last June.

The proposed changes are thought to have been pushed by Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, who campaigned for an overhaul in the sentencing of killers before he entered government.

Colocane was charged with murder but allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

He would have been charged with second-degree murder under the Conservatives’ proposals.

The Times reported that two of the victims’ families said the proposals for US-style murder classifications would be a “seismic, important change”.

The shadow justice secretary, Shabana Mahmood, said: “The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years. Proposing this reform as a last-ditch attempt to look tough is cynical and transparent.

“Rishi Sunak wants to sound tough on domestic abusers, but he needs to urgently answer how he let the prisons crisis get so bad that he has been forced to release a high-risk domestic abuser that was deemed to be a threat to children.

“Labour has long been committed to look at inconsistencies in sentencing. We will do this as part of our work to get a grip on the prisons crisis, get the courts moving and get victims justice.”


You May Also Like

More From Author