King’s Speech: Government to toughen sentences for sexual crimesPublished4 hours agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, PA MediaImage caption, King Charles delivered the Queen’s Speech on behalf of his mother in May 2022Offenders who commit murders with sexual or sadistic content will get life sentences, under plans to be set out in the King’s Speech on Tuesday.The speech, where King Charles reads out the government’s plan for the coming months, is part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony.It will also include measures to force criminals to appear in the dock, and a law to prevent prisoners from marrying. This will be King Charles’s first time delivering the speech as monarch. He previously delivered the Queen’s Speech on behalf of his mother at the last State Opening of Parliament in May 2022.It will also be Rishi Sunak’s first King’s Speech as prime minister – and could be the last before the next general election, which is expected next year. The Conservatives have lagged behind Labour in the opinion polls for more than a year and Downing Street will hope the bills announced in the speech will help improve the party’s electoral prospects. What could be in the King’s Speech on Tuesday?What is the King’s Speech and why is it important?In comments released before the speech, Mr Sunak said: “I want everyone across the country to have the pride and peace of mind that comes with knowing your community, where you are raising your family and taking your children to school, is safe. That is my vision of what a better Britain looks like.”Labour’s shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said the Conservatives were “using the most significant event in the parliamentary calendar to simply repackage ideas they’ve announced multiple times”.”There’s no use posturing on law and order when the criminal justice system is crumbling under the government’s feet after 13 years of mismanagement.”In addition to the crime bills:The speech is expected to include a bill to change the leasehold system, which has led to some homeowners facing heavy maintenance bills and legal fees There will be a bill allowing licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea to be awarded annually.The speech is likely to include legislation to implement polices already announced by the government, including a plan to gradually ban smoking by raising the legal age to buy cigarettes in England and establish a regulator for English football.Ahead of the speech, the government confirmed that three crime bills for England and Wales would be announced – the Sentencing Bill, Criminal Justice Bill and Victims and Prisoners Bill. The Sentencing Bill would implement past promises from ministers that those convicted of murders involving a sexual or sadistic element would be given a whole-life order – meaning an offender has no prospect for release, unless there are exceptional compassionate grounds for their release. According to the Ministry of Justice there are currently 67 whole-life prisoners. The Criminal Justice Bill would introduce tougher sentences for grooming gang members and those who murder their partner at the end of a relationship.The government says the bill would also “make clear in law that reasonable force can be used to make criminals appear in the dock”. Offenders who still refuse would be given two extra years in prison. Ministers announced plans for such a law earlier this year, following high-profile cases of offenders refusing to appear for their sentencing such as the baby killer Lucy Letby and Jordan McSweeney – who was convicted of murdering Zara Aleena.Ms Aleena’s family have previously said the new law would give “a strong message to offenders”, but persuasion was better than force.Image source, Metropolitan PoliceImage caption, Zara Aleena was murdered by Jordan McSweeney in east London on 26 JuneSome defence lawyers have questioned how easy it would be to enforce in practice. Judges already have the power to order a defendant to appear in court and refusing the order can result in prosecution under the Contempt of Court Act, however there is believed to be only one example of this happening in the past decade. The new law would specify that custody officers would be allowed to use reasonable force to compel a defendant to appear at a sentence. Officers could tell a judge if it is not safe to restrain violent criminals. The bill will also give police the power to enter a building without a warrant to seize stolen goods if they have reasonable proof that the item is inside the property – for example by a stolen mobile phone which is broadcasting its position.The Victims and Prisoners Bill gives ministers the power to stop the worst offenders getting parole or marrying in prison. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Justice acknowledged it had no legal route to block Levi Bellfield, who murdered Marsha McDonnell, Amelie Delagrange and Milly Dowler, from getting married whilst in prison.Related TopicsMinistry of JusticeKeir StarmerUK ParliamentRishi SunakCriminal justice systemMore on this storyWhat could be in the King’s Speech on Tuesday?Published14 hours agoWhat is the King’s Speech and why is it important?Published12 hours ago