HC Deb 19 January 1987 vol 108 cc360-1W
Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report such information as is available to show the average sentence given, and the actual sentence served, for (a) rape and (b) attempted rape, (c) manslaughter, (d) occasioning grievous bodily harm and (e) murder in each of the past 10 years.

Mr. Mellor

[pursuant to his reply, 8 December 1986, Vol. 107, c. 80]: The readily available information is given in the table. Information for all years could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The comparison between the sentence served and the sentence imposed can only he made on discharge; thus the sentence lengths reflect sentencing decisions taken in previous years. Information on sentencing in each year is to be found in "Criminal Statistics" (chapter 7 of the Command Paper and supplementary volumes 1 and 2).

The average time served under sentence is reduced by time spent on remand, remission and parole. Changes during this period included a significant increase in the average time spent on remand, a reduction in the minimum qualifying period for parole (affecting mainly sentences under 3 years), and a more restricted policy on parole for those serving sentences of over 5 years for offences of violence. Also between 1980 and 1985 both the average sentence length and the average time spent under sentence were reduced by the changes in the sentencing structure for young offenders which came into effect in May 1983. Under the Sexual Offences Act 1985 the maximum sentence for attempted rape was increased to life imprisonment.

The average time served by those released on licence from life sentences does not fully reflect the longest periods likely to be served by some of those given life sentences following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 who have not yet been released. Fuller information on the time served by all persons received under life sentences is given in table 4(e) of "Prison Statistics England and Wales 1985", (Cmnd. 9903). In accordance with the statement

Average sentence length imposed and average time spent under sentence in Prison Department establishments in England and Wales by persons discharged in 1976, 1980 or 1985 from sentences for murder, manslaughter, rape or wounding
Determinate sentences Average time spent under indeterminate sentences1
Year of discharge Offence Average sentence length4 (months) Average time spent under sentence1 (months) Borstal training (months) Life sentences (years)
1976 Murder Life 6 6 10⅓
Manslaughter 46.5 23.1 8.9
Rape2 45.7 24.3
Wounding2 3 14.2 8.3
1980 Murder Life 6 6 10⅔
Manslaughter 57.3 26.0 8.3
Rape2 48.3 23.4
Wounding2 3 12.5 6.9
1985 Murder Life 6 6
Manslaughter 50.35 21.85 10
Rape2 42.95 20.45
Wounding2 3 10.55 5.15
1On completion of sentence or release on licence: excluding those discharged following a recall from parole or licence or for other reasons eg successful appeal, transfer out of Prison Department establishments. Excludes any time spent on remand in custody or in non-Prison Department establishments.
2Including attempts.
3Including assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.
4Sentence length reflects any consecutive sentences and any appeals; the offence recorded is the principle offence.
5Including sentences of youth custody.
6 Not applicable.