This week I am presenting my Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House. It is entitled “Unduly Lenient Sentences (Right of Appeal) Bill”. The purpose of the Bill is to allow the prosecution or another concerned party, such as a victim, to refer a sentence received by a defendant for any case, in any Court, to the Attorney General for consideration as to whether a formal appeal should be lodged.
Currently the prosecution cannot appeal against any sentence imposed at the Magistrates Court or Youth Court, nor can it appeal against most sentences imposed at the Crown Court. The only cases that can currently be appealed by the prosecution are a small number of the most serious offences heard at the Crown Court.
The defence can appeal against any sentence imposed at the Magistrates and Youth Court and through ‘Leave of a Judge’ against any sentence imposed at the Crown Court. I don’t seek to change this but I feel that the prosecution should have the same rights of appeal as the defence.
The fact that the defence can appeal against any sentence yet the prosecution cannot is simply not right. The system should exist to protect victims and their families and yet, if a sentence given to a defendant in a Magistrates Court or Youth Court is felt to be too lenient there is absolutely nothing that can be done. It allows the Courts to be as lenient as they like without consequence, yet subject to appeal if they are too robust.
In Dartford we have Magistrates who tend to be fair but firm but this is not always the case across the country. This is why I am introducing my Bill to rebalance the scales of our Criminal Justice System and make sure victims of crime are adequately protected.