Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

102 criminals given longer jail terms in 2015 after complaints

More than 100 criminals were given longer prison terms last year following complaints the original sentence was too soft.

A total of 102 offenders faced tougher punishments under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme in 2015, figures from the Attorney General's office show.

Sex offences and robbery accounted for more than half of the cases where jail terms were lengthened.

Under the ULS scheme members of the public can ask the Attorney General to examine sentences they believe to be very low or unduly lenient.

The scheme is reserved for certain types of cases including murder, rape, robbery and some child sex crimes.

Only one person needs to ask for a sentence to be reviewed, and anyone can make a request.

Government law officers may then ask the Court of Appeal to look at the sentence. The punishment can be kept the same, increased, or the court can issue guidance for future cases.

The new figures show that the Attorney General's office received 713 requests for sentences to be reviewed under the initiative last year, with 136 referred to the Court of Appeal as potentially unduly lenient.

For 102 offenders, the Court agreed to raise the original sentence. The highest number of cases related to crimes in the sexual offences category, with 38, followed by robbery (18) and firearms offences (14).

The number of sentences considered has increased by more than 100% since 2010, but referrals resulting in increased sentences have stayed broadly stable over the period.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright said: "While in the vast majority of cases, sentencing judges get it right, the ULS scheme is essential in ensuring victims, family members of victims and the general public are able to request that sentences they think are unduly lenient can be reviewed and, where necessary, increased."

The NSPCC said it was "worrying" that some sentences for child abuse " appear to be too lenient".

An NSPCC spokeswoman said: "These crimes have a devastating effect on the victim, and as such any punishment should always reflect the severity of the crime.

"Every care should be taken to make sure that the case is dealt with as swiftly as possible, to avoid victims having to face a drawn-out process where the case is reviewed and dragged through more courts.

"However, it is heartening to learn that the reviews picked up on these oversights and justice was eventually administered."


From Belfast Telegraph