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New Sentencing Powers: Levels of Crime

Volume 696: debated on Monday 7 June 2021

What assessment she has made of the potential effect of new sentencing powers on levels of crime. (901008)

This Government are serious about fighting crime and making sure the criminal justice system is one the public can have confidence in. That is why the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through this House sees the sentences for causing death by dangerous driving being increased to life. It is why many of the most serious offences, including rape, will see the perpetrators spend longer in prison, while at the same time we make sure that those people with drug and alcohol addictions get the treatment they deserve. I hope my right hon. Friend will agree that these are measures that will build public confidence and keep the public safer.

I want to congratulate the Government on their plans to extend sentences for the deplorable crime of assaulting our emergency workers. Is not it now time for a specific offence of assaulting shop workers and other customer-facing frontline workers, given that the number of assaults on them since this pandemic started has doubled?

My right hon. Friend is right: we are of course doubling the sentence for assaulting—for the common assault of—an emergency worker from one year to two years, which I think is widely welcomed across the House. In relation to other people who deal with the public—not just retail workers, but transport workers, teachers, postmen and women and other people who deal with the public—that is already taken account of in the Sentencing Council guidelines, which makes it an aggravating factor if the victim deals with the public. Therefore, judges can reflect that when handing down sentences. There is a Westminster Hall debate later on today on this very topic, and I am very much looking forward to discussing it in more detail then.