The crimes which Britons would most likely support the death penalty for
The death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1969, but a number of Britons would support it being reinstated for specific crimes.
Tory party deputy chairman Lee Anderson has sparked a debate on the death penalty in the UK after he said he would support bringing it back.
Ashfield MP Anderson, who was promoted in Rishi Sunak's mini-reshuffle this week, told The Spectator magazine that he would support the return of capital punishment because “nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed”.
His comments sparked a backlash from MP's including Labour's Chris Bryant, who said that the death penalty "doesn’t work", as "it makes juries reluctant to convict so guilty parties get off".
Anderson said that heinous crimes — such as the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 by Islamist extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale — where the perpetrators are clearly identifiable should be punished by execution.
Recent polling found that four in 10 Britons also agreed with the death penalty, which was abolished in the UK in 1969, being brought back – with support growing for specific, serious crimes.
According to YouGov, more than half of Britons (55%) support the death penalty for cases of multiple murder, compared to just under a third (32%) who would oppose it in that instance.
Support remains higher for terrorist murder acts (54%) and the murder of a child (52%).
However, not all cases of murder sees a rise in support for the death penalty, with 34% supporting in that instance, compared to 48% who do not.
The poll of 1,665 adults from February last year found that men are slightly more likely to support the death penalty, by 44% to 39%, while Conservative voters are much more likely to support it (58%), compared to Labour voters (23%).
Older Britons are also more in favour, with 54% of those aged 65 and over support executions, compared to 22% of 18-24 year olds.
An expert on the views of political party members pointed out that many Tories would agree with Anderson’s views on the death penalty.
Professor Tim Bale from Queen Mary University of London said Anderson was “almost certainly speaking for the majority of Conservatives”.
A survey of 1,191 members carried out as part of his work on party membership after the 2019 election found 53% agreed that “for some crimes, the death penalty is the most appropriate sentence”.
The last execution to take place in Britain was in 1964, before the practice was suspended a year later.
The death penalty for murder in the UK was outlawed permanently in 1969, with it totally abolished for all crimes in 1998.
The UK has signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits the restoration of the death penalty.
Asked about his support for the death penalty, minister for children, families and wellbeing Claire Coutinho told LBC Radio on Thursday morning that she does not “agree with Lee all the time”, but thinks “it’s really important that we have people who have lots of different opinions”.
The prime minister's press secretary on Wednesday said Anderson “will do a fantastic job working with the new chairman to champion the Conservative Party”, while stressing that “he’s not a member of the Conservative government”.