Chris Grayling

Tough new jail sentences for knife-wielding attackers and other serious criminals come into force tomorrow – sanctions hailed by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling as showing the Government’s determination to crack down on violent thugs.

The “two strikes and out” rule will see offenders given life terms if they commit a second serious offence for crimes such as rape, armed robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Mr Grayling said: “I want a criminal justice system in which people can have confidence.”

The new mandatory terms will remove judges’ discretion to punish offenders for a range of crimes, but supporters say they will tilt the courts in favour of victims and keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

Mr Grayling told BBC1’s Sunday Politics: “It certainly means a small number of additional prisoners going to prison for longer, and I am all in favour of that.

“It starts tomorrow (and) what it means is that somebody who commits a serious sexual offence or violent offence that would command a sentence of 10 years or more… everyone deserves a second chance; if they don’t use that second chance they go to prison for life.”

He also highlighted the new offence of aggravated knife crime, which he said would protect the public by allowing courts to jail offenders for longer.

“If you’re wandering round carrying knife in a threatening way, you will to jail,” said the Conservative minister.

“I’m also looking at the issue of cautions for knife crime, which I’m not happy with at all.”

Mr Grayling, who was promoted to the Cabinet in September’s reshuffle, said he would make “more changes” as he continues to review sentences.