Commenting on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill introduced to Parliament today, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“Yet again we face the depressing spectacle of a government using sentencing legislation to play politics. Sentences for serious crime have been getting much longer for two decades now, turning our prisons into places of despair. But there is not a shred of evidence to show that this runaway inflation in punishment reduces crime.

“Hard cases make bad law, and this confused bill repeats the mistakes of so much other politically inspired legislation with calamitous results. It will blight the lives of people living and working in prisons long after the temporary electoral considerations which inspired it have been forgotten.”


Many of the sentencing provisions in the Bill were put forward in the government white paper A Smarter Approach to Sentencing. The Prison Reform Trust’s response to the white paper is available by clicking here.

In answer to a parliamentary question on 11 March 2021, Chris Philp MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, said that “harsher sentencing tends to be associated with limited or no general deterrent effect”.