HC Deb 13 November 2003 vol 413 cc427-8W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the Criminal Justice Bill on the size of the prison population. [136255]

Paul Goggins

The projected net effect on the prison population of the implementation of the provisions to reform the sentencing framework is an increase of about 1,000 by 2009. These measures include the generic community sentence and more flexible types of custody such as intermittent custody, custody minus and custody plus. The long-term impact, once all these provisions have been implemented and sufficient time has passed for their full effects to be seen, is estimated to be an increase in the prison population of about 500.

Of the other parts of the Bill that have any significant impact, the firearms offences provisions in the Bill will provide for a mandatory minimum custodial sentence for unauthorised possession of a prohibited firearm. The estimated effect on the prison population of the implementation of these provisions, and the implementation of the provision providing for an increase in penalties for certain driving-related offences causing death, is an increase of about 500 in the prison population.

The life sentence provisions in the Bill will provide for the determination of a minimum custodial term in relation to mandatory life sentences. It is unlikely that the effect of these provisions on the prison population will be felt for at least a decade.

The restriction on bail for drug users will be piloted in selected court areas. This provision aims to reduce re-offending by encouraging drug-misusing offenders into effective drug treatment programmes. Part of the pilot evaluation will focus on the likely impact of this measure on the prison population if it were to be extended more widely. A further study is being conducted to assess the likely effect on the prison population of the introduction of a presumption against the grant of bail to defendants who have failed to surrender.

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