Alan Travis and Shiv Malik

October 27, 2011

Only 20 criminals currently serving indeterminate sentences would have been caught by the government’s new “two strikes” mandatory life sentences for violent and sexual offences, Kenneth Clarke has said.

The justice secretary said the sentencing proposals – which seek to extend mandatory life sentences to an offence other than murder for the first time – were a replacement for Labour’s “unjust” indeterminate sentences, which have left 6,500 prisoners without a set release date.

In amendments published on Wednesday, the government also introduced a mandatory minimum four-month prison sentence for 16 and 17-year-olds found guilty of “aggravated” knife offences, despite open opposition to the move from Clarke.

The proposals have been rushed in as last-minute amendments to the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, which is already on its third reading in parliament.

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