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Rape: Sentencing

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 26 June 2007, Official Report, column 662W, on rape: sentencing, what his assessment is of the level of sentences handed down by courts in Northern Ireland; and if he will take steps to ensure longer sentences are handed down. (148489)

Sentencing in individual cases is entirely a matter for the independent judiciary. We have however announced plans for changes to the statutory sentencing framework to introduce new public protection sentences for dangerous sexual and violent offenders. Under the proposals, dangerous sexual and violent offenders could receive extended public protection sentences whereby they could be detained in custody for the full term of their prison sentence. Those committing the most serious sexual and violent offences could receive indeterminate public protection sentences and could remain in prison for an indefinite period. I will be publishing draft legislative proposals shortly.