New legislation on criminal law has been introduced in Parliament as the government seeks to deliver on its pledge to restore confidence in the criminal justice system, cut crime and build safer communities.

The new Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill covers a vast amount of areas of criminal law from juries to sentencing and police powers. Here’s a brief run-down of the proposed changes:

Crime and Sentencing

  • Whole life orders for the premeditated murder of a child.

  • Maximum punishment for 18-20-year olds in exceptional cases such as acts of terrorism which lead to mass loss of life.
  • Life sentence options for drivers who kill through dangerous driving.

  • New powers to halt the automatic release of offenders deemed to pose a risk to the public.

  • Introducing new starting points for deciding the minimum amount of time in custody based on age and seriousness of offence for children who commit murder.

  • Abolishing half-way release for those sentenced to between four and seven years in prison for serious violent and sexual offences such as rape, manslaughter and GBH with intent, and instead introducing a two-thirds release.

  • Doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to 2 years.

  • Criminal record disclosure reform – reduce the time period people have to declare previous non-violent, sexual or terrorist convictions to employers.

  • Stronger police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruption on the public or on access to parliament.

  • Introducing Serious Violence Reduction Orders which give police new stop and search powers against convicted knife offensive weapons offenders to steer them away from crime but make them more likely to be put in prison if they continue to carry a knife or offensive weapon.

  • Increasing the maximum penalty for criminal damage of a memorial from 3 months to 10 years.

  • Extending position of trust laws to cover sports coaches and religious leaders to protect children in their care from abuse. Our abuse team has written more about this here.


  • Allowing an increased use of video and audio tech in the courts.

  • Allowing remote observers to improve public access and transparency in courts and tribunals.

  • Allowing profoundly deaf people on juries with British Sign Language interpreters in the deliberation room.

Most of this new legislation will only apply in England and Wales while some will apply UK-wide.

The Bill is currently in its first reading in the House of Commons. It will need to pass through several readings in the House of Commons and the House of Lords before progressing to receive Royal Ascent and be implemented in law so the finer details of the legislation could yet change.

We will be keeping a close eye on possible upcoming changes to criminal law and sentencing which could impact our clients.

If you are being investigated or prosecuted, Farleys’ criminal defence solicitors can provide expert advice and representation during police station interviews and criminal trials. To speak to a member of the team about your case, please call 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email. If your enquiry is urgent, we operate a 24 hour emergency line on 01254 606050.