Thank you for writing to me about the tragic case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Like you, I was horrified to learn of the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and the abuse he suffered throughout his life. The prosecutors called the actions of his father and stepmother “utterly ruthless, unthinking and pitiless”, and I welcome their convictions.
As you might be aware, a local child safeguarding practice review is currently underway to fully assess the circumstances surrounding Arthur’s awful death at the hands of those who should have been looking after him. Furthermore, a national, independent review into Arthur’s death will encompass local government, as well as the police and education sectors. The Prime Minister has been clear that he won’t hesitate to take any action off the back of that review.
In addition, the Attorney General has launched a review of the sentences to determine if they were too lenient. The Attorney General has 28 days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, and decide whether to refer to the Court of Appeal.
I strongly believe that all children, whoever and wherever they are, should grow up in an environment that ensures their happiness and does not leave them exposed to cruelty, neglect or violence. It is therefore extremely welcome that the Government has announced that it will legislate to ensure that child abusers face more time behind bars as part of plans to increase the maximum penalties for a range of cruelty offences.
Under the changes, which will be brought about through amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment – rather than the current 14-year maximum. The offences of causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child, and cruelty to a person under 16, will also incur tougher maximum penalties – increasing from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment respectively.
The PCSC Bill also contains a provision which will ensure that those who commit the premeditated murder of a child will have a Whole Life Order as a starting point. This will add to the existing circumstances in which the murder of a child has a Whole Life Order as its starting point and will mean that these offenders will serve life in prison without parole.
Please find enclosed a letter I have received from Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education, for your information.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking