Murderers in the UK who fail to disclose the whereabouts of a victim’s body may spend longer behind bars

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Murderers who refuse to disclose the location of a victim’s body may be denied parole under a new law set out by the Justice Secretary David Gauke.

Named after Helen McCourt – murdered in 1988 – whose killer has never revealed her whereabouts, ‘Helen’s law’ will place a legal duty on the Parole Board to reflect the failure to disclose the site of a victim’s remains when considering a prisoner’s suitability for release.

The move follows the unwavering campaign of Helen’s mother, Marie McCourt, to see the law changed and comes after recent meetings with her MP Conor McGinn and Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The government is acting to acknowledge the particular anguish faced by families who do not have the chance to lay their loved ones to rest and will now consider the most suitable options to bring through legislation as soon as possible.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said ‘Helen’s Law’ will mean that the Parole Board must consider this cruelty when reviewing an offender’s suitability for release – which could see them facing longer behind bars.’

Parole Board guidance is already clear that offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could therefore face longer in prison. ‘Helen’s law’ will for the first time make it a legal requirement to consider this withholding of information when making a decision on whether to release an offender.

Human Rights legislation protects against arbitrary detention, and the proposed new law balances this with need to keep the public safe. The proposals also take into account instances where a murderer may genuinely not know the location of a victim’s body if, for example, it has been moved.

The changes to the release test build on wider reforms to the parole system, announced earlier this year, that will allow victims the opportunity to request the reconsideration of a release decision. This forms part of sweeping changes to bring more transparency and accountability to the parole process and improve the support to victims.

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