You are here

Prisoners get the vote

17 December 2010

The government has announced that prisoners serving sentences of less than four years will get the vote, unless the judge sentencing them decides otherwise.

Under the proposals, offenders sentenced to four years or more will be barred from voting, unless the judge lifts the ban.

The move follows the ruling of the ECtHR in Greens and MT v the UK (see Solicitors Journal 24 November 2010), which held that the UK’s blanket ban on convicted prisoners voting was a breach of their human rights.

Earlier last month prime minister David Cameron said the blanket ban would have to be lifted, while admitting this made him ‘furious’.

Mark Harper, minister for political and constitutional reform, said today: “The government has brought these proposals forward as a result of a court ruling which it is obliged to implement.

“This is not a choice, it is a legal obligation. We are ensuring the most serious offenders will continue to be barred from voting.

“If the government failed to implement this judgement, we would not only be in breach of our international obligations but could be risking taxpayers’ money in paying out compensation claims.”

Harper said the new right to vote would apply only to Westminster and European elections. Prisoners would not be registered at their local prison, and would vote by post or proxy.

An announcement is to be made to parliament on Monday. Earlier today the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by Peter Chester, a convicted prisoner, against a High Court ruling that he could not challenge the statutory ban preventing him from voting. Chester was convicted of raping and murdering his niece in 1978.

Categorised in:

Procedures Expert witness The Bar