Just six per cent of applications to scheme for 'too soft' sentencing result in stiffer punishment

Just six per cent of applications to scheme for 'too soft' sentencing result in stiffer punishment


Outrage after just six per cent of applications to a government scheme set up to tackle ‘too soft’ sentences result in stiffer punishment for convicted criminals

  • Just six per cent of ‘soft’ sentence scheme applications get stiffer punishment
  • In 2017, 14 per cent of claims to the ULS project resulted in tougher sentences
  • Victims say the scheme is undermined by the limitations of crimes it can cover

Just six per cent of applications made to a Government scheme set up to tackle lenient sentences are actually resulting in stiffer punishments.

Analysis by The Mail on Sunday found 21 of 368 referral applications completed under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme in the past six months were referred to the Court of Appeal and saw judges increase the sentence.

In 2017, 14 per cent of claims to the ULS project resulted in tougher sentences, according to the latest annual figures from the Attorney General’s office, which runs it.

Just six per cent of applications made to a Government scheme set up to tackle lenient sentences are actually resulting in stiffer punishments. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

Just six per cent of applications made to a Government scheme set up to tackle lenient sentences are actually resulting in stiffer punishments. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

Some victims are concerned that the scheme, launched in 1989 following public outcry over a series of controversial sentencing decisions, is being undermined by limitations on the crimes that it can consider.

A swathe of serious offences, including making and downloading child pornography images and causing death by careless driving, are exempt, and in the last six months, 153 complaints about sentencing were ruled ineligible.

One of them involved Jaiden Mangan, a three-year-old who was run down and killed on a pedestrian crossing by delivery driver Dean Phoenix in Dorset.

Analysis by The Mail on Sunday found 21 of 368 referral applications completed under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme in the past six months were referred to the Court of Appeal and saw judges increase the sentence. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

Analysis by The Mail on Sunday found 21 of 368 referral applications completed under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme in the past six months were referred to the Court of Appeal and saw judges increase the sentence. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

He ran a red light and ploughed into the youngster in March 2018. He admitted causing death by careless driving in April but was jailed for only a year.

Last night Jaiden’s father James, 30, accused the Government of denying justice to his son. ‘It is a crazy system,’ he said.

‘How can they call it a justice system when there is no justice? It doesn’t surprise me that so few cases are successfully reviewed. The system needs to be overhauled.’

Last night, the Attorney General’s office said that the running tally of figures published on its website was not comparable to its annual statistics. 

It said 62 cases were still being considered, of which 14 were already with appeal judges.

However, even if those 14 result in increased sentences, the proportion of claims that lead to harsher punishments will be just over nine per cent.

In February, the former Solicitor General Robert Buckland hailed the scheme’s success. 

In 2017, 14 per cent of claims to the ULS project resulted in tougher sentences, according to the latest annual figures from the Attorney General’s office, which runs it. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

In 2017, 14 per cent of claims to the ULS project resulted in tougher sentences, according to the latest annual figures from the Attorney General’s office, which runs it. A stock photo is used above for illustrative purposes only [File photo]

He said the scheme – which allows victims of crime, prosecutors and members of the public to complain if they consider a sentence too lenient – had ‘helped hundreds of victims and their families get justice’.

Exemptions covering cases involving making pornographic images of children mean that 18 such cases have been rejected in the past six months.

One high-profile complaint involves the case of Lee Bartram, a paedophile West Midlands police officer handed a 16-month suspended sentence in February for making and sharing more than 450 child pornography pictures, and committing misconduct in a public office.

The misconduct charge was considered for referral to the Court of Appeal under the scheme, but was rejected.

The child pornography charge was not eligible for consideration by the scheme.

West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson had described the sentence as ‘too lenient’ and the case was unsuccessfully referred to the ULS.

Of the 368 cases, the Attorney General’s office declined to send 191 cases to the Court of Appeal. Three others were sent and the sentences remained unchanged.

A spokeswoman for the office said: ‘Of those sentences referred by the Attorney General to the Court of Appeal, there is a very high success rate where leave is granted – 88 per cent in 2018.’ 

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