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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Rapists who admit their guilt could have their sentences halved under new government proposals.



Ministers say the move would spare victims the ordeal of reliving their attack by giving evidence in court.
Under existing laws, those who plead guilty to rape at the earliest opportunity can have their jail terms reduced by up to a third. The standard tariff for a rape conviction is five years.
The new plans, which could see sex attackers walk free after as little as 15 months on license, have been criticised by victims groups.
Prisons minister Crispin Blunt revealed the scheme to MPs on Tuesday.
Difficulty of prosecution should not be used as an excuse to cut sentences.
Read Sophy Ridge's blog on prison sentences for rapists
He is backed by justice minister Kenneth Clarke, who said: "It is true we are thinking of putting it up to a half.
"It makes an enormous difference to the cost, the police time, the involvement of quite unnecessary preparations for trial if everyone leaves guilty pleas to the last moment."
The current conviction rate for rape is just 6%. Supporters of the changes hope this figure will rise significantly if more perpetrators admit their crime.
Louise Casey, the Commissioner for Victims, said the halving of rape sentences "underplays the harm caused" and placed "administrative efficiency over justice".
Former Home Secretary Jack Straw asked: "How on earth will giving half off a sentence help to protect the public?"

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