AGO – SENTENCING POLICY – 11 October 2011
Dr Julian Lewis: Is it correct that, on average, magistrates have imposed significantly longer sentences for offences committed in the context of the riots? If it is correct, does my right hon. and learned Friend welcome that, as I do, and will he confirm that magistrates are absolutely right to take the context in which certain offences are committed into consideration when determining sentences?
[The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): The courts always take the context in which an offence is committed into consideration in determining the appropriate sentence. Few people would disagree with the principle that it is a serious aggravating feature if an offence is committed in the midst of riotous assembly and general mayhem. As usual, if for any reason the courts have passed a sentence that is excessive or inappropriate in any way, it can be reviewed by the Court of Appeal. I am afraid that I cannot help my hon. Friend on the precise statistics. Quite apart from anything else, many cases are still coming into the courts in respect of behaviour and crime committed during the riots, and it is far too early to make a final assessment.]