UK PM to make whole-life sentences mandatory for 'heinous' murderers

'Life Means Life,' says PM Rishi Sunak, as nation reacts to stricter sentencing measures

Sunak explains that the new laws will cut crime and strengthen communities across the UK (photo: @RishiSunak/twitter)
Sunak explains that the new laws will cut crime and strengthen communities across the UK (photo: @RishiSunak/twitter)


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans for tough new laws which would mean those convicted of heinous murders will face life behind bars for the rest of their lives, with no chance of being considered for parole or early release.

The 43-year-old British Indian leader said in a statement on Saturday that “life means life” and judges will be required to hand down mandatory whole-life orders to criminals who commit the most horrific types of murder.

The new law will place a legal expectation on judges to hand down whole-life orders, except in extremely limited circumstances.

“I have shared the public’s horror at the cruelty of crimes we have seen recently. People rightly expect that in the most serious cases, there should be a guarantee that life will mean life. They expect honesty in sentencing,” said Sunak.

“By bringing in mandatory whole life orders for the heinous criminals who commit the most horrific types of murder, we will make sure they never walk free,” he said.

The announcement comes days after UK paediatric nurse Lucy Letby was handed a whole-life order after being found guilty of killing seven newborn babies under her care in a hospital in northern England.

The UK's statutory provisions do not allow capital punishment and therefore the toughest sentence to be handed down is a whole-life term. By putting things on a legal footing, Downing Street said judges will have greater confidence to hand out whole-life orders without risk of challenge in the Courts of Appeal. Under the legal shake-up, whole-life orders will also be the default sentence for any sexually motivated murders.

“A whole-life order will now be the expectation for murderers where the killing involves sexual or sadistic conduct. This important law change will ensure that the worst of the worst can now expect to spend the rest of their lives in prison,” said UK Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

The UK government said it will legislate for the changes announced in due course, as Parliament returns from its summer recess next month.

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