Partners in Crime: The Moors Murderers - Netflix

Three-part documentary series examining the crimes and characters of the notorious Moors Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: None

Partners in Crime: The Moors Murderers - Life imprisonment in England and Wales - Netflix

In England and Wales, life imprisonment is a sentence which lasts until the death of the prisoner, although in most cases the prisoner will be eligible for parole (officially termed “early release”) after a fixed period set by the judge. This period is known as the “minimum term” (previously known as the “tariff”). In some exceptionally grave cases, however, a judge may order that a life sentence should mean life by making a “whole life order.” Murder has carried a mandatory life sentence in England and Wales since capital punishment was suspended in 1965. There is currently no “first degree” or “second degree” murder definition. However, there were two degrees of murder between 1957 and 1965, one carrying the death penalty and one life imprisonment, and there have recently been plans to introduce such a definition. Life imprisonment is only applicable to defendants aged 21 or over. Those aged between 18 and 20 are sentenced to custody for life. Those aged under 18 are sentenced to detention during Her Majesty's pleasure for murder, or detention for life for other crimes where life imprisonment is the sentence for adults. However people under 21 may not be sentenced to a whole life order, and so must become eligible for parole. In addition to the sentences mentioned above, until 2012 there were two other kinds of life sentence, imprisonment for public protection (for those over 18) and detention for public protection (for those under 18). These were for defendants whose crimes were not serious enough to merit a normal life sentence, but who were considered a danger to the public and so should not be released until the Parole Board had decided that they no longer represented a risk. These sentences were abolished by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, although a number of prisoners remain imprisoned under the former legislation.

Partners in Crime: The Moors Murderers - European Court of Human Rights challenges against whole life orders - Netflix

Three convicted murderers, Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter, all murderers who had been sentenced to whole life orders, applied to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, for the court to declare that it is a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights for someone to be sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. When the initial ruling was delivered in January 2012, the court ruled that because the whole-life orders were imposed by a judge only after consideration of the facts of each case, and because the life prisoners could apply to the Home Secretary for compassionate release, their whole life orders did not breach their human rights. A later appeal by the same men led to a ruling in July 2013 that there must be a prospect of review of whole-life tariffs within 25 years of the prisoner being sentenced, and that any impossibility of parole would violate their Article 3 rights. By this stage there were at least 49 prisoners serving such sentences in England and Wales. In February 2014, five judges at the Court of Appeal found the Strasbourg court was incorrect in concluding English and Welsh law never allowed whole life orders to be reduced because the Secretary of State could reduce such orders in “exceptional circumstances”, and that all “whole life” prisoners would be entitled to a review of their sentence within 25 years of being sentenced. Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said whole life orders were compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the most appalling cases of murder. Thomas said further, “Judges should therefore continue as they have done to impose whole-life orders in those rare and exceptional cases. ... In our judgment the law of England and Wales therefore does provide to an offender 'hope' or the 'possibility' of release in exceptional circumstances which render the just punishment originally imposed no longer justifiable.” In February 2015, the ECHR upheld the lawfulness of whole life orders, on the ground that they can be reviewed in exceptional circumstances, following a fresh challenge by murderer Arthur Hutchinson, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for a triple murder in Sheffield more than 30 years earlier. Another legal challenge to the court by Hutchinson was rejected in January 2017. A fresh challenge by another “whole life” prisoner – Jamie Reynolds, who murdered a teenage girl in Shropshire in 2013 – is now reportedly pending with the ECHR. By this stage, there were believed to be more than 70 prisoners in England and Wales serving whole life sentences.

Partners in Crime: The Moors Murderers - References - Netflix