Skip to main content

Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme

Volume 703: debated on Thursday 18 November 2021

9. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the unduly lenient sentence scheme in 2021. (904196)

In 2021, the unduly lenient sentence scheme has continued to ensure that the seriousness of offending is properly reflected in the sentence imposed. More than 100 cases have been heard by the Court of Appeal this year. I have personally presented cases, securing an increase in the sentence imposed on a rapist earlier this year.

Along with many in this House, I have become increasingly concerned about unduly lenient sentences for rape, especially in relation to crimes committed against minors. Last month, a man was jailed after being found guilty of six counts of rape of a 14-year-old, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and other sexual offences; he was sentenced to only nine years’ imprisonment. That follows reports that last year a man was jailed after being found guilty of raping a three-year-old in a wood; his sentence, too, was nine years.

Those prison sentences are simply not long enough. Will the Attorney General agree to look at those cases and meet me to discuss what more can be done to ensure that the sentences match the crimes committed?

My hon. Friend raises some very grave cases. I assure her that such offences are within the scope of the unduly lenient sentence scheme, and that the Solicitor General and I will consider every such referral to us with the greatest care.

I am proud of our work in respect of offending against minors. In three recent cases concerning child sexual abuse, offenders’ non-custodial sentences were replaced with immediate custody, which I hope sends a clear message about how seriously such offending is taken.