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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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53 life term criminals freed

THE Government was under mounting pressure today after it emerged that more than 50 criminals sentenced to life since 2000 have been let out of jail on licence.

MPs reacted with outrage after it was revealed that 53 criminals jailed for life in the past six years have already been freed.

The Conservatives said the public were being “misled” over what a life sentence actually means.

Former home secretary David Blunkett joined the row by calling for reform of the criminal justice system to bring in “community justice”. In his column in today’s edition of The Sun newspaper he said victims and voters needed to feel they had a say in the sentences served by the most dangerous and notorious offenders.

The parents of a three-year-old girl subjected to an horrific sex attack by a convicted paedophile called for judges to be made to answer to the public.

The father of Craig Sweeney’s victim told The Sun: “If ever there was a crime where life should mean life then this is it. Judges should be accountable to the public.”

The new figures were revealed in a written answer by Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

He said 53 prisoners who were sentenced to life from 2000 onwards have since been released on licence.

One was freed and then sent back to jail, only to be freed again, the Home Office revealed.

Mr Sutcliffe said the main reason for their release was that they had served their minimum term or tariff and the risk to the public was “acceptable“.

The Government has come under increasing pressure this week to make sure serious offenders are handed “appropriate” jail terms.

Several high profile cases, notably involving paedophiles who abused young children, have seen public calls for tougher sentencing.

Home Secretary John Reid stepped into the row by criticising an “unduly lenient” sentence given to convicted paedophile Craig Sweeney, 24.

Mr Reid said he would contact Attorney General Lord Goldsmith with a view to having the sentence referred to the Court of Appeal.

But the gesture appeared to backfire after the Cabinet member was accused of trying to interfere in the independent judicial process.

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