Judges reading the Riot Act | tutor2u Law

Well, plenty of discussion material for law teachers as a result of the, er, aggravated shopping that went on this summer in our major cities. Magistrates advised by clerks to toughen up… sentencing guidelines on the back burner… certainly food for thought. The riots are a clear example of an aggravating factor, but does this justify apparently inconsistently harsh sentencing? Yes, according to top Manchester judge Andrew Gilbert QC, who stated that it was “perfectly proper” to depart from sentencing guidelines in the circumstances. And depart they have - with sentences on average 25% tougher than normal and 70% of offenders jailed compared to a normal rate of 2% in the Magistrates’ Court.

Is he right, or do such sentences ultimately undermine public confidence in the fairness of the system? Former DPP Lord Macdonald thinks we need new guidelines for such situations - there’s a good discussion on Thursday’s Today Programme.

Also a good topic to prompt debate on competing sentencing objectives. Is this deterrence, or retribution? Is either approach the right one?

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