Justice secretary Chris Grayling today promised a ‘real plan’ to shake up human rights law, prompting speculation that prime minister David Cameron will fill in the details in his speech to the Conservative party conference tomorrow.
Last weekend, Grayling told the press that the Tories are ready to scrap the Human Rights Act, stressing that the final decision on controversial legal cases should not be taken by ‘judges in Strasbourg’. It is understood he plans to say more himself later this week, after the conference ends.
This morning the justice secretary told the conference that the Tories will always defend ‘real human rights’ in countries such as North Korea.
But he described it as ‘crazy’ and ‘unacceptable’ that human rights law is used by terrorists to avoid deportation, give votes to prisoners and end whole-life sentences. The Tory manifesto will contain a ‘real plan’ to reform the system, of which details would be disclosed ‘shortly’.
Elsewhere, Grayling pledged to introduce a ’victims’ law’ to establish victims’ rights ‘in statute’ if the Tories win the election.
He won applause for stressing that under him prison is no longer a ‘holiday camp’: he has banned Xboxes and 18-rated films. Young prisoners should not stay up all night playing computer games, he said.
‘Under this if you commit a crime, you are more likely to be caught and charged. You are more likely to go to prison,’ he says.
‘We’ve stopped prisoners claiming legal aid, paid for by hardworking taxpayers, because they don’t like the prison they’re in,’ he says. ‘We’ve made it clear that if a homeowner confronts a burglar in their home, the law is now firmly on their side.’
‘We’re cracking down on the cautions culture Labour allowed to flourish. We’re scrapping simple caution for offence of carrying a knife.
‘We should never lose sight of fact that our system should be about rights of the victims and not about the rights of the offender.’
Grayling also wants to see specialist centres in prison to concentrate on mental health expertise. He also hailed the revolution in rehabilitation he promised would flow from his plans to reform probation services.
He said: ‘For the first time in recent history, every offender released from custody will receive a year’s statutory supervision in the community.
’Our prison system will be reshaped, with a network of prisons that will specialise in preparing offenders for release into the community. Most prisoners will spend the last few months of their sentences here, to prepare for release into the area they live.
’It will be possible to have a proper through the gate rehabilitation service, run by the same provider inside and outside prison.
’This is our best chance of stopping some of our most challenged people falling through the cracks all over again.’
Grayling also confirmed that the most serious offenders will lose the right to automatic early release – ‘they will have to persuade the parole board that they are safe to be released even a day before the end of their sentences’.
- Read Paul Rogerson’s live blog from the Conservative conference in Birmingham