The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act brings positive changes
Last month the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act passed, so I want to talk about what this means for Dorset.
The act will see tougher sentences for the worst offenders and equip our police officers with the powers and tools they need to keep us all safe.
I am pleased that the Act will help fight violent crime and high harm such as violence against women, domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault. Such crimes are listed as a priority in my police and crime plan, and I welcome the changes within the act that will help ensure offenders are rightly punished.
The Act will also see the time limit for prosecution of common assault or battery in domestic abuse cases extended, giving victims more time to come forward and report the crime when they are ready and feel safe to do so.
In 2020/21, 3763 domestic abuse cases in England and Wales failed due to the six-month limit for prosecution - extending the limit to two years puts victims of domestic abuse first and shows an understanding that it takes courage to report incidents and further that such cases can be very complex in their nature. By extending the limit of prosecution, more cases will be able to be completed and result in offenders being charged.
The Act will also end the automatic halfway release point from prison for serious sexual and violent offenders, ensuring that certain serious violent and sexual offenders serve at least two-thirds of their sentence. These changes have the protection of the public at their core and ensure a firm but fair justice system.
Many of you will know road safety is another issue high on my agenda and I am pleased that the Act introduces a number of road traffic measures to ensure the courts have the powers they need to deal with dangerous and careless drivers. Tougher sanctions for offending motorists will mean that the punishment reflects the seriousness of the behaviour. Whilst many deaths and injuries on the road are the results of accidents, too many of them involve criminal behaviour.
The maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving has been increased from 14 years imprisonment to life imprisonment. These offences will now have the same maximum penalty as manslaughter. A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving has also been created and can result in a sentence of up to two years in prison.
Both changes will see those driving dangerously punished and kept off the road, creating safer roads for us all.
I have centred on just two elements of the new Act as they both relate directly to my Police and Crime Plan, but the Act also addresses changing the law around burglary, abuse of positions of trust and youth rehabilitation.
The government are making strides forward to make positive changes to legislation, so that it reflects the needs of those going through the criminal justice journey and I will continue to lobby government to make positive change for all victims of crime in Dorset.
Dorset Police and Crime Comissioner