Raab to unveil crackdown on dangerous criminals

The justice secretary will unveil a crackdown on dangerous criminals in the House of Commons.

29 March 2022

The Justice Secretary is expected to unveil a crackdown on dangerous criminals in a “root-and-branch” review of the parole system.

Dominic Raab will announce a package of landmark reforms in the House of Commons on Wednesday, which are due to set out how certain criminals will face ministerial scrutiny.

Offenders who are subject to life sentences, indeterminate sentences for public protection, extended sentences and certain recall cases are all subject to the parole process, meaning their release must be directed by the Parole Board.

HMP Five Wells
Dominic Raab with a prison officer at the opening of category C prison HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Deputy Prime Minister’s reforms are expected to take back powers to override the Parole Board when it comes to the release of dangerous criminals from jail, with an aim to focus on protecting the public rather than the rights of offenders.

It is thought that Mr Raab will take a “precautionary approach” towards the release of prisoners, offering more prescriptive guidance on when they should be freed.

He is also hoping to reintroduce powers allowing ministers to check releases in cases involving murder, rape, terrorism and causing or allowing the death of a child, with a view to protect the public, which could see Mr Raab block decisions in certain cases.

Victim participation in parole hearings is also due to be announced, giving victims the right to attend parole hearings in full for the first time, in a nod to the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto.

The parole board will now be required to take into account submissions made by victims and they will be allowed to ask questions in the submissions.

Colin Pitchfork release
The double child killer Colin Pitchfork (PA)

The shake-up comes after a public outcry at the decision to release double child killer and rapist Colin Pitchfork from jail and London taxi driver and rapist John Worboys.

The release of Worboys was later formally overturned after the case was examined by a new panel, while Pitchfork was recalled to prison for a breach of licence conditions in November.

Mr Raab said: “As Justice Secretary, I have the responsibility to keep the public safe but to do this I need to be able to exercise authority when it comes to releasing dangerous criminals.

“I’m not satisfied our current approach is as robust as it needs to be which is why I am making changes to restore public confidence in the system.”

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