Currently in the UK convicted serving prisoners do not have a right to vote, the law prevents them from voting in parliamentary and local government elections. It is deemed that losing your right to vote as a prisoner is a punishment for committing crimes along with losing your liberty by being placed into custody.

Two convicted murderers Peter Chester and George McGeoch argued that under EU law they did have a right to vote whilst being in custody serving lengthy prison sentences. Peter Chester was convicted of raping and strangling his 7 year old niece in Blackpool in 1977. George McGeoch is also serving a life sentence after murdering Eric Innes in 1998. Peter Chester is still serving prison a sentence at Wakefield Prison even though the minimum term  he was ordered to serve before he was allowed to apply for Parole, has expired.

George McGeoch was sentenced to a minimum term of 13 years but due to committing further offences whilst being in prison including holding two nurses hostage in a siege in 2001, he will not be eligible to apply for Parole until 2015.

In their case they argued that they should be given the right to vote in parliamentary and local government elections whilst still serving prison sentences, was rejected by the Supreme Court on the 16th October 2013. The Prime Minister, David Cameron stated that the decision of the Supreme Court was “a great victory for common sense”.

This rejection by the Supreme Court comes after The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2005 that a blanket ban on prisoners being able to vote was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights relating to the right to free and fair elections. In 2005 the European Court held that it was up to individual countries to decide whether or not prisoners could vote in elections or not but that a total blanket ban was illegal.

In light of this ruling and the case brought by Peter Chester and George McGeoch Parliament is currently considering legislation.

Emery Johnson Astills have a dedicated criminal department that can deal with all aspects of Criminal Law including issues that arise whilst people are remanded into custody. Should you wish to seek advice about criminal law or require advice or assistance then please contact 0116 255 4855. Our accredited police station representatives are available 24/7.