Life should mean life

July 09, 2013, 1:20 PM GMT+0

Majorities of the British public believe whole life sentences are appropriate for every kind of murder

In a landmark case, The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that whole-life sentences violate an offender’s human rights unless they have the possibility of release and review. However a YouGov poll from May found that majorities of the British public believe that murderers of every kind should spend their whole lives behind bars, and never be considered for parole.

Murders for a sexual or sadistic motive, premeditated murders of two or more people and murders of children are all deemed eligible for whole-life sentences by between 80% and 90% of the public.

Murders for ideological or political reasons - for example by terrorists - murders of police officers and murders using knives or guns are all viewed as appropriate for whole-life sentences by between 65% and 75% of the public. 55% of the population believe all remaining types of murder should also be punishable by whole-life sentence.

Liberal Democrat voters are in every case less likely than supporters of other parties to favour whole-life sentences. For gun, knife and "any other type of murder" they are actually more likely to support the current policy of consideration for parole.

Downing Street has said that the Prime Minister “profoundly disagrees” with the decision, and the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has said the ruling would leave the authors of the European Convention on Human Rights “turning in their graves.” The European Court claims that if a prisoner is incarcerated with no prospect of release “there is the risk that he can never atone for his offence.”

See the full poll results

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