Monday, July 07, 2008

News From Whitehall

The Government has announced a revision to the new Sentencing Guidelines, a month before they are introduced, and before some of us have even received a copy. The new Guidelines régime provides for a balanced Sentencing Advisory Panel to make proposals to the full Sentencing Guidelines Council. Once the Guideline is approved courts must have regard to it, and give reasons for any divergence.
The Court of Appeal's judgment a few weeks ago tweaked the existing guidelines, so I presume that we are supposed to give as our reason for ratcheting up penalties "because Sir Igor Judge said so".
As usual it all smacks of a hasty quick-fix to grab a headline, just like the anonymous witness business that is highly likely to fall foul of the ECHR in the near future.
I do wish the Government would try a bit of quiet reflection before going in with its great flat feet.
Later:- I think that I heard a BBC report that Mr. Straw has conceded that he has no power to change the Guidelines since the SCG is independent. Typical shoot-from-the-hip rubbish.

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