Unduly Lenient Sentences

Gareth In The Commons

Last week I held a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of Unduly Lenient Sentences.

This debate highlighted the unfair situation which exists with appeals against sentences in our criminal courts.

At the moment the defence is able to appeal against sentences that are too harsh, whereas the prosecution can appeal against a sentence that is unduly lenient only in a very limited number of situations.

Currently, sentences for crimes such as actual body harm, malicious wounding and burglary, cannot be appealed by the prosecution.

It is simply wrong that no safety net is in place for the victims of crime to respond to sentences that are too lenient.

During the last parliament, I tabled a Private Member’s Bill on Unduly Lenient Sentences and persuaded the Conservative Party to pledge to tackle the issue in its manifesto.

Under my proposals a basic protection for the victims of crime would be introduced. Just as it is right to have a safety net for the defence, there needs to be a safety net for the prosecution.

In last week’s debate the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland MP, agreed there are inconsistencies and anomalies in the current scheme which the Government will look into.

The criminal justice system is there to protect the vulnerable. This is its primary function and it currently fails to do that in a host of situations where unduly lenient sentences are given to offenders. That situation has to change. We must do something to ensure the scales of justice are balanced for both sides.