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In November 2002 a similar decision in relation to adult offenders followed a successful challenge by convicted double murderer Anthony Anderson.
Anderson had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988 with a recommended minimum term of 15 years, but the Home Secretary later informed him that he would have to serve at least 20 years.
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.
Judges are not obliged to follow the guidelines, but must give reasons in court if they depart from them - whether recommending a lesser or higher minimum term than in accordance with the guidelines.To begin with, it was fairly common for those sentenced to life to be released in around ten to fifteen years.As time passed, it came to be thought that longer sentences should be imposed, especially in cases such as the Moors Murders, the Yorkshire Ripper and Dennis Nilsen.The Home Secretary (and now the Minister for Justice) was empowered to make Whole Life Orders to ensure that particularly dangerous or heinous criminals were never released.Currently, mandatory lifers serve an average of 14 years and for other lifers the average has been in decline and now stands at nine years.
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.