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New call to Leader of House for Commons debate on sentencing powers of magistrates
Shipley MP Philip Davies has branded the chief executive of the country’s longest established penal reform charity as “idiotic” as he called for a House of Commons debate on magistrates’ sentencing powers.
Mr Davies asked the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, to arrange either a discussion or statement be provided to find out “if and when” the Government intends to allow magistrates to sentence people to 12 months in prison, rather than six.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Davies said: “The law is in place and it just needs activating. Such a debate or statement would help to tease out the Government’s response, and that of other honourable members, to Frances Crook and the idiotic Howard League for Penal Reform, who believe that magistrates should not be allowed to send people to prison at all.”
The charity and its chief executive Frances Crook, who believe prison is an ineffective way of reducing crime, chose not to respond to Mr Davies’ comments yesterday.
Currently, a magistrate can send a person to prison for a maximum of six months – but for a year if they are guilty of two crimes. Any one crime that carries a custodial sentence of more than six months is sent to crown court.
Mr Lansley replied to the Tory MP by saying he would ask the Lord Chancellor to respond.
“I also gently point out to my honorourable friend that we will have questions to the Justice Secretary on November 12, which may also provide him with an opportunity to push forward this important point,” he added.
Speaking after the House discussion, Mr Davies said: “If a magistrate can hand out a 12 month sentence for two crimes they should be able to for one serious offence. Sending a case to crown court that will result in a sentence of a year will cost more money and also is more stressful for the victim as there is a longer wait to get justice. It seems sensible on every level to allow magistrates to sentence up to a year.”