§ Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact on the prison population of the proposed changes to(a) sentencing and (b) the double jeopardy rule contained in the Criminal Justice Bill. 
§ Hilary Benn
[holding answer 28 February 2003]: The sentencing provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill will make it possible to ensure that the most serious violent, sexual and persistent offenders spend longer in prison while allowing other offenders to be dealt with by means of tougher and more effective community sentences. Current projections indicate that the long-term net effect of implementation of these provisions will be a small increase of about 1,000 in the prison population.
The proposal contained in the Bill in relation to retrial for serious offences would only permit a retrial in cases where new and compelling evidence subsequently came to light. Furthermore, to prevent the possible harassment of acquitted persons or where it is not in the public interest, the personal consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be required to the re-opening of investigation and an application to the Court of Appeal. Given these safeguards it is estimated that only a very small number of cases are likely to be retried each year and that the impact upon the prison population will be negligible.