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Judges to get powers to force offenders to attend sentencing hearings

Judges to get powers to force offenders to attend sentencing hearings

Judges will be given the power to order an offender to attend their sentencing hearing, including by force if necessary, under planned legislation announced by the Ministry of Justice.

The Government has promised legislation to force serious offenders to attend their sentencing, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling it “unacceptable” that some criminals have refused to face their victims.

The promised reforms will give custody officers the power to use “reasonable force” to ensure those awaiting sentencing appear in the dock or via video link.

Those convicted could also face an extra two years in jail if they ignore a judge’s order and continue to refuse to attend court, with such penalties applying in cases where the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said earlier this year that ministers were committed to changing the law to force criminals to be sentenced in person after the killers of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa refused to stand in the dock.

It comes after child murderer Lucy Letby also refused to appear for her sentencing earlier this month.