Abolish time limits on prison sentences to stop criminals dodging justice, says MP

A prison corridor

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An MP has called for ‘use by’ dates on prison sentences to be abolished to stop convicted criminals evading justice by disappearing underground for several years.

At the moment sentences for most offences lapse if they are not served within three years, but jail terms of eight years or longer can be started up to 20 years later and for the most serious crimes, such as rape, murder and sexual abuse of children, there is no limit.

However, Foort van Oosten, of the governing VVD party, told NOS Radio 1 Journaal he wanted the expiry dates to be abolished altogether. ‘We shouldn’t be rewarding long trips to nice subtropical islands’, he said.

Geertjan van Oosten, secretary of the lawyers’ association NederlandseĀ Vereniging van Strafrechtadvocaten, dismissed his namesake’s proposal as a solution to a non-existent problem. ‘I thought we must be having another election,’ he said.

In some cases it could be counter-productive to enforce sentences from decades earlier if criminals had got their lives back on track in the meantime, he told NOS.