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Government plans to end automatic one-third reduction for guilty pleas

The government is considering a plan to scrap reduced jail sentences for ‘bang to rights’ criminals who plead guilty to their crimes. 

It follows backlash after one of the killers of PC Andrew Harper had his sentence slashed by a third. 

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is reportedly studying proposals to end the current practice of reducing jail sentences by one third. 

Under current UK law, if an offender does admit to their crime it usually means they get a reduced sentence with a maximum of a third off when they admit their crime at the very earliest opportunity. 

The later the plea, the smaller the prison sentence reduction. 

Ministers are concerned the discounted jail sentence is being exploited by criminals caught in the act, according to a report in The Telegraph. 

A source told the paper: ‘If you get caught red-handed killing someone, say on camera, should you really get a third off for pleading guilty?’ 

‘The rule is designed to help victims so they don’t have to go through the stress of giving evidence. 

‘What it is not supposed to be is for criminals to exploit it by seeing they are ‘bang to rights’ and then to game the system.’

Henry Long, 19, the driver of the car that dragged 28-year-old PC Harper to his death, pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murder, saying he did not know PC Harper was attached to the vehicle. 

He was given a reduction on his 16 year sentence because he pleaded guilty and must serve a minimum of 10 years and eight months in jail. 

The sentencing sparked a public outcry, with many claiming the punishment for Long, as well as Jessie Cole and Albert Bower, who each sentenced to 13 years in a young offender’s institute, was too light. 

On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that it has been asked to consider if the jail terms handed down are too lenient. 

PC Harper died horrifically on August 15 last year after he tried to stop the trio fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire but his ankle got caught in a strap dangling from the back of a Seat Toledo and he was dragged to his death. 

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