Unduly lenient sentencing

There are many things wrong with this country.

There are many things wrong with British justice.

This is evident, and almost universally acknowledged, but in British society there are many rights conveyed upon citizens that are almost unknown.

Like, the ability for any child to withdraw permission for his or her school to use their biometric information irrespective of what their legal guardians want or agree to. At any age. Like, the Distance Selling Regulations, the Sales of Goods Act, Supply of Goods and Services Act or the Credit Consumer Act that provide amazing protection to the consumers buying goods and services if they know about them; many retailers refuse to acknowledge the rights contained within the legislature.

But I’ve used another one today: any member of the public can request that Her Majesty’s Attorney General for England and Wales review any sentence passed for a “serious crime” in the previous 28 days if they deem it to be “unduly lenient” and on receipt of a request the Attorney General is obliged to consider the case.

The member of the public does not have to be connected to the case, and it takes just one complaint about a “low Crown Court sentence” to trigger a review. It is essential for a functioning justice system that society has confidence in the sentences meted out and although this right is restricted to cases of murder, rape, child sex offences, serious fraud and drug offences, it still provides additional checks and balances that the punishments given are appropriate, and in accordance with the law of the land.

If the Attorney General agrees with the complainants, then he will petition the Court of Appeal, who will consider whether the sentence doled out in the original case was too lenient. I, along with many others, asked for the case of Neil Wilson to be looked into again. The case hit the headlines when a barrister in the trial referred to a thirteen-year-old victim as “predatory” and the offender was given to a suspended sentence for engaging in “sexual activity with a child” and making “indecent images of a child.”

Personally, I believe the justice system in my country should support the victims and uncover the truth, and therefore used my powers as a British citizen to complain about his sentence. Because of the complaints made – and there were many – the case was referred to the Court of Appeal and Neil Wilson was sentenced to prison for two years.

So Rolf Harris: British television mainstay, who today was convicted of twelve offences against children as young as seven, was sentenced to less than six years in prison. That’s probably three on early release. I don’t understand how such serious crimes could merit such a low sentence, and the tales coming from the court are just horrendous.

I’m not alone: the public reaction has been sizeable. Twitter, Facebook: there is genuine outrage that someone who destroyed childrens’ lives and innocence is incarcerated for a pitiful length of time.

So while the tweets flew and the keyboards jabbed away, I simply wrote an e-mail to the Attorney General’s office to request a review. Adding my voice to the many who also did so, and tonight it’s been announced the case will be considered as to whether it’s unduly lenient. Millions were outraged at the antics of Rolf Harris, many disgusted by the punishment by vocalising their disgust at the sentence.

Only, between the tweets and posts, I saw nothing about making a call to the Attorney General’s Office, which is a pity. It took me less than a minute and it’s far more productive to direct that ire at the one person who can do something about it. The more people who speak up against such leniency, the stronger the message is.

Which is a progressive step forward for British justice.

Image from here

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