Criminals convicted of stalking and sex offences could see their sentences increased if victims consider their punishment too lenient. Following on from the pledge last month by Boris Johnson to review sentencing, ministers confirmed yesterday that the ‘Unduly Lenient Sentence’ (ULS) would be widened to cover 14 new offences allowing victims to challenge sentences. As reported on the Justice Gap, over the weekend it was revealed that under sentencing reforms life would mean life for killers of young children.
Under the ULS scheme anyone has the power to ask the Attorney General to consider referring a sentence to the Court of Appeal. Crimes such as murder, robbery and terrorist offences were covered but ministers now promise offences such as controlling and coercive behaviour be brought into its remit as well as the taking, distributing and publishing of indecent images of children and abusing a position of trust with a child.
‘Sentences are decided by our independent judiciary based on the facts before them but it is absolutely right that victims have a voice in the system when punishments don’t appear to fit the crime,’ commented the justcie minister Robert Buckland QC; adding that the government was ‘sending a clear message that this government will use every tool at its disposal to make sure justice is done and the public is kept safe’.
Last year 99 criminals had their sentences increased under the scheme following review by the courts.