I am pleased to report that newly-released annual statistics for the 2019 Unduly Lenient Sentence (“ULS”) Scheme show that 63 criminal offenders had their sentences increased, after I - in my role as Her Majesty’s Solicitor General, and other Law Officers, considered that their original sentences were too low. The scheme maintains trust and confidence in our criminal justice system.
Under the ULS scheme, victims of crime, members of the public, and prosecutors can ask for certain Crown Court sentences to be reviewed if they believe they are too low. Only one referral is required in order for it to be considered by the Attorney General’s Office.
As a Law Officer I carefully consider each case personally, and if I consider the sentence is so low that it amounts to a gross error, I will ask the Court of Appeal to review the sentence. I can only ask the Court of Appeal to review a sentence with a view to increasing it if that sentence is, not just lenient, but unduly so, such that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of sentences available. I have personally been to the Court of Appeal on several occasions to present cases myself.
It is worth noting that, in the vast majority of cases, judges do get sentences right. In fact, there has been a fall in the number of applications for sentences to be reviewed by my office.
The Law Officers received 577 applications for sentences to be reviewed which met the necessary criteria to be considered under the Scheme. Of these, 93 were referred to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal agreed that 64 sentences were too low and, as a result, 63 offenders had their sentences increased. 16 people were imprisoned after avoiding prison time altogether at their original sentencing.
You can read more about the scheme and its recent successes here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sentences-increased-for-63-offenders.
You can watch me talking about the ULS scheme here: https://twitter.com/attorneygeneral/status/1283714927065260032.
More information about what types of cases can be reviewed and how to get a sentence reviewed can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/ask-crown-court-sentence-review .
Alongside my work on the ULS scheme, I also recently hosted online events with legal practitioners and victims groups to discuss the proposed changes to the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure and CPIA Code of Practice. More information about this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consultation-on-revisions-to-the-attorney-generals-guidelines-on-disclosure-and-the-cpia-code-of-practice