Our thanks to Gavin for this piece in today’s Times, by Jonathan Ames, Legal Editor. Gavin writes:
The Ministry of Justice announced today it will be adding 14 new offences to the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme, whereby the CPS or Victim can appeal a sentence to the Court of Appeal to try to make more harsh.
“Coercive or controlling behaviour,” a classic “one-size-fits-all” allegation by vindictive wives divorcing their husbands, has been added to the list. Also added are “convictions that involve victims fearing violence, serious alarm or distress.” This relates almost entirely to the subjective feelings of the accuser rather than objective facts. However, as usual, all the examples in the Times article are of heinous crimes that bear no reality to the VAWG agenda, which involve vague, subjective accusations almost exclusively by women against men.
The Times piece:
Victims of harassment, stalking, child sexual abuse and other crimes have been given new powers to challenge unduly lenient sentences.
Justice ministers today publish a list of 14 criminal offences that will be included in the scheme, which allows victims to appeal against sentences handed down by judges that they believe are too soft.
The scheme allows people to ask the attorney-general to take the sentence to the Court of Appeal for review, where it could be increased. The announcement follows the prime minister’s decision to order an urgent review of the sentences of violent and sexual offenders. It also comes after concerns that a third of applications to review sentences are rejected.
Murder, robbery and terrorism offences are among the crimes already part of the scheme. Now added to the list are sentences resulting from convictions for coercive or controlling behaviour in personal relationships.
Other sentences that can be challenged are for a range of child sexual abuse offences, such as taking, distributing and publishing indecent images of children and abusing a position of trust with a child.
Offences of sexual activity with people with mental disorders that impede their ability to make informed choices will be included in the regime as will sentences for stalking and convictions that involve victims fearing violence, serious alarm or distress.
“We are determined that those found guilty of heinous crimes such as child sex offences receive the sentences their actions warrant,” Robert Buckland, QC, the justice secretary, said. Mr Buckland, who is also lord chancellor, said it was right that sentences were determined by independent judges “on the facts before them”. He added, however, that it was also “absolutely right that victims have a voice in the system”.
“It seems to me a good approach,” Harriet Wistrich, founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice, said. “In our experience sentences for offences involving violence against women and girls often appear inadequate.”
Caroline Goodwin, QC, chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association, said that judges often had little room for discretion but added: “The extension of the undue leniency scheme will ensure that public confidence is maintained.”
Ian Kelcey, the co-chairman of the criminal law committee of the Law Society, said, however, that the move risked clogging up the work of the Court of Appeal.
A BBC freedom of information request found that nearly 3,500 requests had been made under the scheme between 2015 and 2018. Of those 648 were referred to appeal judges and 478 resulted in increased sentences.
• Peter Daniels, 70, of Alderbury near Salisbury, was convicted of abusing 20 girls, 13 of whom were raped. Given a life term with a minimum of nine years, the Court of Appeal raised the “unduly lenient” minimum to 12 years.
• Joshua Bouzan, 29, who raped and sexually abused two children over six years, had his sentence increased from six to ten years.
• Lee Fox, 24, was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman as she lay outside a Plymouth nightclub. He was originally sentenced to a 12-month community order but appeal judges increased that to 12 months in jail, which they suspended for two years.
You can subscribe to The Times here.
Our YouTube channel is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.