Following on from yesterday’s rubbish (see thread), the Mail continues its dishonest trashing of the justice system with more cod statistics about criminal sentencing.…
620,000 criminals with at least 10 previous convictions were given non-custodial sentences. That’s the headline. Here’s what the Mail doesn’t tell you:
Firstly, this number is over a 5-year period. That little nugget is buried away from the headline.
Secondly, the Mail’s definition of “non-custodial sentence” is simply false. A suspended sentence *is* a custodial sentence. It is not an *immediate* custodial sentence, but it often does result in prison when offenders breach the conditions of their suspended sentence.
The article makes no mention of this, and provides no details of how many of those given suspended sentences ended up serving them.
The Mail also fails to mention the crucial point that many of these defendants will have spent time in custody on remand. This time counts towards any custodial sentence, so sometimes a community order will be imposed to reflect that D has already served several months in prison.
Also worth noting the Mail’s definition of “hardened crim”. 11 convictions or more. Which sounds a lot, but no context is given. Eg: D drink drives in a careless manner while disqualified from driving, crashes into a fence and drives off. Right there are 6 different offences.
If D then repeats this, he has 12 convictions under the Mail’s definition. D is an idiot and deserving of punishment, for sure. But is he really a “hardened criminal”?
While much ire is (again) directed at judges “allowing serious offenders to walk free”, there is (again) no mention of the Sentencing Guidelines which judges are required by law to follow.
But here’s the kicker: little detail is given about the offences that comprise that figure of 600,000. Many will be incredibly minor offences not deserving of a prison sentence (such as possession of a small bag of cannabis).
All we are told is that of the 627,502 cases concerned, 19,634 involved offences of violence. THREE PER CENT. Of which, many will be unpleasant but minor offences of common assault, such as pushing, spitting or just getting in someone’s face.
A minor point, but worth making: some of those sentences for sexual/violent offences will have been unduly lenient. I’m not saying judges are perfect. They make mistakes. But some of those will have been increased upon appeal by the Attorney General.
But most stupid of all, of those 600,000 offences, some will be NON-IMPRISONABLE. That’s right. The Mail is complaining that judges are not sending people to prison for offences not carrying a prison sentence, such as minor public order offences or being drunk and disorderly.
This really gives you the measure of this “research”. Utter junk. Average sentences have increased year-on-year. We have the highest prison population in the EU. Prisons are dangerously overcrowded. But this is not enough for the Mail.
Final observation: it is disappointing (although predictable) that the MoJ doesn’t tackle the myth that “more prison” is a solution to rising crime (as opposed to, say, resourcing the police, CPS and courts). Instead it boasts about longer sentences.
The most distressing thing, and the reason I am so enraged, is that this distracts from the many genuine problems with criminal justice. As some loudmouth blogger said in some book or other, #TheLawIsBroken. But “soft sentences” is not one of them, or at least not in the Top 100.
Have just spotted this gem. Judges do not have the power to caution offenders. That is a police decision.

This stuff is basic.

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More from @BarristerSecret

Sep 25, 2018
There has been quite a lot of anger at this story. I understand why - it instinctively feels as if the bar is being set even higher for victims of serious sexual offences to get justice. As if we’re giving up on them.

But if I may offer a counterpoint from my book [1/6]
Something missing from the reporting and commentary is the fact that independent reviews have shown that, in Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) cases, the CPS misapply the evidential test more often than in non-sex cases. (Report here:…) [2]
This is partly because of (understandable) eagerness to amend for an historically appalling indifference by police and prosecuting authorities towards often vulnerable victims of sexual abuse.

But it’s wrong to assume that prosecuting weak cases is without human cost. [3]
Read 6 tweets
Sep 18, 2018
Wouldn’t have been prosecuted in the US, of course. They have a constitutional right to bear-arms.
The replies to this tweet show Twitter at its most hateful and vengeful. You people need to shut up and appreciate good comedy.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
Protecting the Protectors is a noble and important aim.

Here’s why this new law does not achieve it. [THREAD]
Obviously assaults on emergency workers are unacceptable. That is so obvious as to be trite, but for the avoidance of doubt, that is my starting point. Anything we can do to offer protection to emergency workers should be seriously considered. But this new law is not serious.
It seeks to do two things:

1) Create a new offence of “assault against an emergency worker in the exercise of their functions”.

2) Create a “statutory aggravating factor” for more serious assaults.

Let’s break this down.
Read 15 tweets
Sep 12, 2018
It’s a reasonable question (although the answer would be easily discoverable to a journalist):

Because all defendants sentenced to a standard determinate custodial term are automatically released on licence after serving half of their sentence (s244 Criminal Justice Act 2003).
There are certain offences and situations where, if a judge believes a defendant to be “dangerous” (defined as presenting a significant risk of causing serious harm), a defendant can be detained beyond the halfway point of their sentence. HOWEVER...
...It is worth reading the remarks of Mr Justice Holroyde, who sentenced Choudary. He indicated a clear view that Choudary was dangerous, and would continue to “spread his message”. But the offence of which Choudary was convicted was not one to which the dangerous laws apply.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 3, 2018
These stories are becoming increasingly popular with the media. Criminal steals big wodge of money, soft judge only makes them pay a fraction of it back.

A brief thread is in order. [THREAD]
When someone financially benefits from a crime, the Crown Court has the power to make what is called a “confiscation order”. It has two parts: (1) The “benefit” - ie what has the person had. (2) The “available amount” - what assets does the person currently have.
The court makes a confiscation order in the lower of those two figures. A person will only be ordered to pay what they can actually afford, as failure to pay can mean the person is imprisoned, and it’s not very fair to imprison people for not paying what they haven’t got. BUT.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 30, 2018
Gather round, folks! It’s time for another round of What Is Andrew Pierce Wrong About This Time?

[SPOILER: Everything]
“No other sanction”. Well that’s a lie right off the bat. The news report is here. And we can see that the court imposed a community order, a restraining order and costs. There would also be “requirements” to the community order, such as unpaid work or a rehabilitation programme.
It’s important to note that there are few facts given. The charges aren’t even specified (“assault” is not an offence), and no information is given about the reasons given by the court for passing that sentence.
Read 7 tweets

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