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Sentences (Violent Crime)

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

10. Whether his Department takes steps to inform the public of sentences handed down to people convicted of violent crime. (253531)

The outcomes of criminal justice cases are provided free of charge to local newspapers, which play a key role in providing information to their communities. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already announced that he intends to publish the final outcome of criminal court hearings on a public-facing website.

That will be welcome news for the victims of crime, but does the Minister agree that if there is to be any potential deterrent effect for those who may commit such crimes, they need to see that information. I cannot imagine that many of them will go online to see what their sentence may be. Will the Minister consider using a poster campaign, or taking out adverts in national newspapers, so that perpetrators know that they will be caught, and know what the consequences will be for their own lives?

My hon. Friend has offered a helpful and constructive suggestion, and we shall certainly look at it. I have seen national advertising campaigns in London on gun and knife crime, for example, that are very effective. In my area of Lewisham, the safer neighbourhood team included information in its quarterly newsletter to residents on people who were caught and convicted, and on the resulting sentences. We should consider matters as widely as possible to ensure that everyone, victims and offenders, is aware of the real cost of crime.