§ Mr. Martyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken during the current session to strengthen the powers of the courts to punish offenders who have committed violent crimes against women.
§ Mr. John Patten
There are high maximum penalties for the most serious violent crimes against women, as against any victim: life imprisonment is mandatory for murder and is the maximum penalty for manslaughter, rape and the most serious woundings. The courts' powers will be enhanced when the Criminal Justice Act 1991 comes into force in October. The Act enables courts to impose longer custodial sentences than justified by the seriousness of the offence upon violent or sexual offenders in order to protect the public from serious harm from them. The Act also gives courts power to order longer and more intensive supervision for sex offenders following their release from custody.