Will one of the legal loopholes finally be closed?
Though Chris Grayling (Justice Secretary) is under much scrutiny at present with regards to Legal Aid, the Ministry of Justice is hoping to close a legal loophole that at present allows criminals who are released on bail to abscond without punishment.
Chris Grayling announced a new offence, which would see criminals who do abscond face a possible extra two years in prison. The current laws on this, ensures that an absconding offender is caught and sent back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence – but there is no additional form of punishment for them going on the run.
The introduction of a new offence, which would be “unlawfully at large following recall to custody” could see offenders facing additional punishments when they are recaptured and put before the courts.
The Ministry of Justice believe that around 800 criminals a year could face prosecution, if this new offence is to enforced, and this will carry a maximum two-year sentence.
As most of you will already know, it is a criminal offence to 1) not surrender to custody when on bail, 2) to escape from jail, and 3) to not return from release on temporary licence. This new offence will close a loophole in the law, to ensure offenders are punished when they remain unlawfully at large following a recall to custody.
Mr Grayling said: “It is unacceptable that criminals who disregard the law and attempt to evade the authorities are able to do so with impunity.
“I am today sending a clear message to those people that if you try to avoid serving your sentence you will face the consequences when you are caught. I think the hard-working taxpayers of this country would expect nothing less than tough punishment for offenders who try and beat the system“From my first day in this job I have been clear that punishment must mean punishment. We’re on the side of people who work hard and want to get on and my message is simple – if you break the law, you will not get away with it.”
This loophole definitely needs to be closed, and punishments need to be enforced to ensure that this offence is dealt with correctly and in line with how similar offences are punished.
Let me know your opinions on this – and whether you believe this to be a necessary new offence, and one which should be punishable? Do you believe this will act as a deterrent for future offenders looking to abscond?