Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said a Tory government would legislate to ensure an adult convicted of the premeditated murder of a child is set a whole life order – meaning they will never be – unless there are “exceptional” circumstances.
Under current rules, only those convicted of multiple child murders or have been found to have been sexually or sadistically motivated attract a whole life order, which the Tories said was “too restrictive”.
The Tories’ plans would mean that a whole life order would be the starting tariff in cases of child murder, although judges in individual cases would be able to set it aside if there were “exceptional mitigating circumstances”.
The Government had already set out plans prior to the election to abolish early release at the halfway point of jail sentences for those convicted of the most serious violent and sexual crimes.
While life sentences are mandatory for murder, most convicted murderers do not spend the rest of their lives in jail.
Mr Buckland said that Conservatives would act to end the “sickening injustice” of the parents of murdered children having to see their child’s killer go free.
“There can be no more sickening injustice than that of heartbroken parents watching the killer of their child walk free,” he said.
“That’s why under a Conservative majority government the law will be rewritten to be absolutely clear: any murderer who denies a young, innocent child the right to life surrenders their own right to liberty. They do so permanently, and they do so without exception.
“There is nothing we can do to take away the pain of the families of murdered children. So we must do everything in our power not to compound it.”
At the same time, the party said the change would be accompanied by a package of measures aimed at cutting re-offending by doubling the numbers of former prisoners in employment within six weeks of their release.
The measures would include the creation of a new prison education service for England and Wales focused on providing work-based training and raising education standards for inmates across the system.
Prisoners would be offered more hours of work enabling them to learn new skills, with additional prison workshops.
Every prison would have a dedicated work coach providing support throughout a prisoner’s sentence and establishing links with local job centres ahead of their release.