Sentencing

The View from Scotland

<p><img alt="iStock_000002699262Medium[1]" height="158" src="/images/sites/files/images/stories/features/features/iStock_000002699262Medium[1].jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" width="230" />The presumption against short prison sentences in Scotland could provide lessons for south of the border, says Dr Sarah Armstrong </p> <p>On the very same day in June 2010 that the Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke QC MP argued for fewer short prison sentences in England and Wales, the Scottish Parliament passed a law to do just that. The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 creates a presumption against prison sentences of three months or less, culminating a major effort to reform the use of imprisonment here. </p>
read more

Sentencing Council consultation

<br />The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation, proposing changes to the guidelines for assault offences.
read more

Restoring Confidence

<p>John Cooper QC wonders whether a compartmentalised subject-specific approach to sentencing policy has contributed to the public’s lack of confidence in the regime. Sentencing tariffs should be consistent and comparable with each other, he believes </p>
read more

Law in Action

<p><img src="/images/sites/files/images/stories/features/features/domgreive.jpg?sfvrsn=809675b0_2" height="239" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" width="158" alt="domgreive" />David Wurtzel meets Dominic Grieve QC MP </p> <p>While his colleagues have been emphasising how different they will be from the Labour Minister who came before them, the new Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, prefers to see the development of the law officers’ role as “seamless”. When we met in his Victoria Street office in late July, he explained that he looked back to his Tory predecessors, Patrick Mayhew and Nicholas Lyell. </p>
read more

Lord Chancellor gives evidence to Justice Select Committee

<p>“I am more inclined to judicial discretion than some of my predecessors”, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke QC, declared to the Justice Select Committee on 21 July 2010. </p>
read more

Consistency & Confidence

<p>Lord Justice Leveson explains the work of the new Sentencing Council </p>
read more

Pre-election promises

<p>Barristers gleaned a hint of what the future may hold, with the emergence of a rash of political manifestos launched in April. </p> <p>The three main parties outlined their promises for legal reform ahead of the general election, as politicians jockeyed for position at the post.<br />Labour has pledged to “find greater savings” in the legal aid budget and the court system by “increasing the use of successful ‘virtual courts’ which move from arrest, to trial to sentencing in hours rather than weeks or months”. High-earning offenders sent to prison will be required to repay part of their upkeep costs. Asset confiscation will become a “standard principle”, with communities given a say in how seized assets are used. </p>
read more

Separation Anxiety

<p>Three years on from the Corston Report, Kim Hollis QC, who has recently visited Styal Prison, outlines the implications of sending women, many of whom have children, to prison </p> <p>In 2007 the Corston Report: a review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system (“the Corston Report”), commissioned by the Home Secretary following the deaths of six women at Styal Prison in Cheshire, took a hard look at whether and for how long women needed to be sent to prison. Baroness Corston recommended the immediate establishment of an Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group for women who offend to govern a new Commission and to drive forward an agenda properly to address specific issues relating to women’s criminality, and with a visible direction in respect of women in custody. She further crucially recommended that custodial sentences/remands into custody for women must be reserved only for serious and violent offenders who pose a “threat to the public”. </p>
read more

Addressing Addiction

<p>Dedicated drug courts are being established to combat drug abuse.  Elizabeth Forrester reflects on how the Drug Court in Jamaica and the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in London are tackling this worldwide issue </p> <p>The worldwide disease that is drug abuse has traditionally been attacked from two sides: the Ministry of Defence, customs, the police and the criminal justice system are used to strike at the supply of drugs; and the Ministry of Health, State welfare, charities, NGOs and social workers tackle the demand for them. When drug addicts commit crimes, they are punished accordingly; when drug addicts cannot care for their children, the State removes them. Still, despite all the sentencing guidelines and educational efforts, it is painfully clear that these measures do not stop this disease from progressing. Addicts sent to prison, or even given unpaid work requirements, fuel their habits more easily than before, and are just as likely to reoffend upon release. Desperate, addicted mothers who have children removed into the care system become more desperate—they often have more babies with withdrawal symptoms which are removed from them again. </p>
read more

Blackstone’s Criminal Practice

<p><strong>David Ormerod, The Right Honourable Lord Justice Hooper<br /> OUP, October 2009, £221.74 978-0-19-557423-0</strong> </p> <p>This work is now in its 20th edition since its re-incarnation by HHJ Peter Murphy, who has now stood down as Emeritus Editor. Criminal practitioners, and his publishers, owe him a great debt of gratitude. The teams of contributors and editors are immensely strong, providing as near a guarantee as is possible of an accurate, erudite work which combines practical guidance with excellent analysis. </p>
read more