Teenagers convicted of murder could face whole-life terms

New sentencing reforms could means that teenagers convicted of murder in England and Wales could receive whole-life terms.

A whole-life tariff, which means the criminal is in prison for the rest of their life without ever becoming eligible for parole, can only currently be given to someone aged over 21 but ministers plan to reduce this to 18 for exceptional cases, such as terrorism.

The move also means that there would be new powers to prevent the automatic release of offenders who have become radicalised behind bars while serving non-terror related sentences.

This follows the jailing of Hashem Abedi, who helped his brother Salman plan the Manchester Arena bombing, who, in August, was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 55 years in prison. He was under the age of 21 at the time of the murders so a whole-life order was not an option open to the courts.

A whole-life tariff, reserved for offenders judged to be the most dangerous to society, differs from a life sentence, under which the prisoner is given a number of years they must spend in jail after which they will be eligible to apply for parole.

Writing in the Sunday Express, Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited Abedi's case, saying if someone plots to deliberately kill dozens of people ‘then it doesn't matter if you're 'only' 18, 19 or 20 when you do so’.


View the latest
digital issue