Criminals in England and Wales may soon find themselves with a critical decision to make: attend their sentencing hearings or face the consequence of an extended stay behind bars. The British government has revealed plans to implement a law that mandates criminals to be present in court during the pronouncement of their sentences. This initiative is aimed at reinforcing the importance of justice delivery and accountability within the judicial system.

Government Initiative to Enhance Accountability

In a bid to underscore the significance of attending one’s own sentencing, the UK government has announced a proposal to grant judges the authority to enforce this requirement. If an offender fails to comply with the directive to appear in court during the sentencing hearing, they could potentially face an additional two years of incarceration.

This move, disclosed on Wednesday, echoes the government’s commitment to upholding the principles of justice and ensuring that victims and their families witness the consequences of criminal acts being meted out.

Ensuring Presence Through “Reasonable Force”

While this reform ensures that offenders face the repercussions of their actions, it also empowers custody officers to employ “reasonable force” if necessary to ensure the presence of the accused in court. This endeavor intends to provide victims and their families with the assurance that justice is being duly delivered.

The decision to employ such measures, however, rests with the judges, while the determination of the appropriateness and proportionality of using force remains the prerogative of prison staff and custody officers.

From Idea to Reality: A Response to Prior Incidents

The notion of compelling criminals to attend their sentencing hearings is not new, with the concept being previously considered in political discourse. Former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab voiced his intention in April to introduce such measures following the refusal of Thomas Cashman, the murderer of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, to appear in court.
The impetus for this reform was further fueled by instances like the sentencing of Hashem Abedi, involved in the Manchester Arena bombing, and the case of Lucy Letby, a convicted neo-natal nurse charged with multiple counts of murder.

A Balance of Accountability and Practicality

While the proposal garners support for its intent to ensure accountability, concerns about practical implementation have also emerged. Bryn Hughes, whose daughter PC Nicola Hughes was tragically killed in 2012, cautioned against hasty decisions. He highlighted the complex dynamics that could emerge when prisoners are forced to attend court, emphasizing the challenges of managing their reactions and behavior during the proceedings.

A Push for Swift Action and Comprehensive Reform

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper acknowledged the importance of requiring criminals to face justice and victims during sentencing. She indicated support for the proposal, albeit expressing disappointment over the government’s delayed response in implementing the reform.
Cooper remarked that such measures could have been applicable in the case of Lucy Letby, the neo-natal nurse who recently faced sentencing for her crimes.


Why is UK crime rate high?
A surge in recorded crimes was observed, reaching 6.6 million incidents, indicating a 10% rise in comparison to the period ending March 2020, when 6.1 million offenses were reported. This notable upswing is primarily attributed to heightened figures in specific offense categories, which are particularly susceptible to alterations in reporting and recording methodologies.

How safe is London UK?
On the whole, London stands as a secure city for residence, education, and exploration. According to the 2021 Safe Cities Index, it claimed the 15th spot among the safest cities globally. This ranking is based on a comprehensive evaluation of various metrics encompassing personal safety, digital security, health, infrastructure, and the environment.

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