Unduly Lenient Sentencing

GJ AT WORK IN WESTMINSTER

Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme must be widened, says Dartford MP Gareth Johnson.

In the past year more than 40% of sentences referred to the Attorney General by members of the public have been rejected because they do not fall within the scope of the Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme.

In May 2016, the Attorney General began releasing details of the sentences referred to its office. In the first twelve months from May 2016 to May 2017, 262 of the cases could not be considered.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, who has campaigned on this issue since he was elected in 2010, said: “It is disappointing to see so many cases turned down because they are not included in the scheme. The law needs to change to provide greater powers for victims to challenge unduly lenient sentencing.  It is wrong that often the victim or victim’s relatives who refer such cases, are told they don’t have the right to get a sentence reviewed when a defendant can appeal any sentence.”

Under the current Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, victims of crime and the public, can ask for a sentence to be increased, but only for a limited number of offences, including murder, rape and robbery. It means there is also no right to change unduly lenient sentences for the majority of serious offences including the creation or distribution of indecent pictures of children, stalking and fraud.

Mr Johnson added: “I would like to see the scheme extended to cover more offences. The recent figures reinforce the public’s appetite for offenders to be punished appropriately. It is right the defence can appeal sentences that are too harsh but the prosecution should be able to appeal sentences that are too lenient. At the moment that cannot happen in the vast majority of cases.  The criminal justice system is there to protect people, but the system we have at the moment doesn’t always achieve that and I hope broadening the scope of the scheme will go some way to providing a more level playing field.”