Judges down South are softer on criminals than in the North: Convicts in southern England are a third more likely to have their cases referred to Court of Appeal for being ‘unduly lenient’, figures show
- In the south of England, 23.9 per cent of eligible cases are referred by the Attorney General
- In Wales, the judges are considered to be the toughest
Criminals in the South of the country get softer treatment than those in the North, according to analysis of sentences challenged for being ‘unduly lenient’.
Convicted offenders in the south are nearly a third more likely to have their cases referred to the Court of Appeal because victims, members of the public or the Attorney General believe they may be too lenient.
Data compiled by the Labour Party shows that in the south of England, 23.9 per cent of eligible cases are referred by the Attorney General, compared with 18.6 per cent in the North.
In Wales, the judges are considered to be the toughest, as only nine per cent are thought to be potentially too lenient.
That number is nearly a third of the rate of that in the South of England.
Blackfriars Crown Court London, Britain
The Midlands us just above the North, with 19.3 per cent being referred.
Dame Vera Baird, the former victims’ commissioner and a former solicitor general, suggested that judges in the North were more likely to be ‘getting it right’ and were ‘tougher and harder’ on criminals.
‘There may be better judges in the North who get it right and who are not unduly lenient. They might be tough and hard, being northerners,’ she said.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Northumbria of Victims’ Commissioner Vera Baird QC
Despite the fact that anyone can ask Attorney General Victoria Prentis to consider a referral of a case to the Court of Appeal, she and her legal advisers will only do so if there is objective evidence of a serious error in the judge’s sentencing.
It is not enough to provide subjective evidence that a case might be too lenient.
The Inner London Crown Court had the highest rate of referrals for unduly lenient sentences – half of these are passed to the Attorney General to the Court of Appeal to be reconsidered.
Other courts in the top 10 with the highest ‘unduly lenient’ sentence referral rates included Winchester at 44.4 per cent, Woolwich in London at 41.2 per cent, Portsmouth at 36 per cent, Guildford at 35.3 per cent, Bristol at 47 per cent, and Cambridge at 31.8 per cent.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, said the huge variation in referral rates across different regions was ‘turning the public’s last hope of justice into a postcode lottery’.
She added: ‘For the victims, families and communities who put their faith in this scheme, it is unacceptable that their chances of success are being affected by where in the country they live.
‘They already felt let down by the courts, and they will now rightly feel let down by government ministers themselves.’