Tough on Crime: Michael to Appeal ‘Unduly Lenient’ Criminal Cases

One of the responsibilities of the Solicitor General is to review what are called ‘unduly lenient sentences’ which is when a judge’s ruling on a guilty person in a Crown Court is so lenient that it is thought to be unlawful.

These cases are usually reserved for the most heinous of crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and the sexual abuse of children. Sentences that are thought to be very lenient are brought to my attention and then it is up to my discretion whether or not to refer them to the Court of Appeal (the second highest court in the country after the Supreme Court) with a view to seeking an increase in the original sentence.

These cases are statistically very uncommon – the British judiciary is extremely competent and highly effective. Our judges are amongst the best in the world and this is borne out by the fact that 99.9% of sentences are not interfered with; indeed a judge is meant to have the discretion to consider a range of sentences relevant to each individual case. Official statistics show that in the year 2018 only 140 cases were challenged, with 99 offenders having their sentences increased. You can read about this here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/99-criminals-have-sentences-increased-under-unduly-lenient-sentence-scheme.

As Solicitor General I have already exercised the power to review unduly lenient sentences and send them for appeal to seek to have them increased. Usually a senior barrister will go to court and address the judges with a view to reviewing the sentence. However, wherever possible and where my other duties allow, I intend to go to court myself and address the court to seek to increase sentences where appropriate.

In my first week in office I have already sent several cases for review. You can read about one case here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sentence-increased-for-man-convicted-of-sexual-assault-on-woman.

It is important that convicted criminals receive proper punishment for the crime they have committed and I intend to play my part in delivering on the public expectation that sentences are appropriate for the offence.