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Call for inquiry into sentencing

Victims' rights campaigners called for an inquiry after it emerged none of the nearly 10,000 burglars convicted in one year received the maximum sentence available.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice also showed only two of 4,614 robbers and 1.4% of sex offenders were jailed for as long as they could have been.

Tory MP Philip Davies, who prompted the publication of the statistics - which relate to 2008 - told the Sunday Telegraph they painted an "outrageous" picture.

"The figures are unbelievably low. It is outrageous. I am sick to the back teeth of politicians talking tough on crime but not following it through," he said. "No doubt there are incredibly persistent burglars within these figures who come before the bench time after time, and it is extraordinary that not one of them has received a maximum sentence. The previous government were past masters at passing draconian laws with draconian sentences to make themselves out to be tough on crime.

"But it is only meaningful if people are actually given the maximum sentence that the Government makes available to the courts."

The average sentence for burglary was just over two years. Overall, less than one in 100 of those convicted of a variety of indictable offences, also including fraud and forgery, criminal damage, drugs, theft and handling, got the longest term.

The highest proportion of maximum sentences - 5.1% - were handed down for violence against the person, with 98.6% of sex offenders - 2,796 of 2,835 - escaping the most serious punishment.

Rose Dixon, of the campaign group Support After Murder and Manslaughter, told the newspaper: "I am shocked by what is revealed here, and this has never been published in this way before. There should be an inquiry into this and the Government must publish a further breakdown of who gets what sentences."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "Sentencing in individual court cases must always be a matter for the independent judiciary as only they have the full facts of each case.

"The Ministry of Justice is currently conducting a full assessment of sentencing and rehabilitation to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending."


From Belfast Telegraph