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Custodial Treatment

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether courts will be asked to take into account prison capacity when determining whether to use short custodial sentences during the next two financial years. (188049)

Sentencing in individual cases is entirely a matter for the courts and it would not be appropriate to ask them to take into account capacity when sentencing. But the Government believe that short custodial sentences often lack utility and that, while serious and dangerous offenders must go to custody, less serious offenders are usually better punished in the community. We will always ensure that there are prison places for those serious and dangerous offenders who ought to be in prison and that courts have tough community sentences at their disposal to deal with less serious offenders. A working party is currently looking at the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of establishing a Sentencing Commission that might among other things consider prison capacity.