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Lord Chan: I support Amendment No. 160BCA, especially the proposed paragraphs (f) and (g). The

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"maintenance of public confidence" in particular localities was a very common issue in the two research projects that the Sentencing Advisory Panel carried out in communities. The fear of crime grips vulnerable people such as single older people living alone and families with young people; that fear recurred frequently when confronted with sentencing for serious crimes such as sexual offences and violence, and extended to such issues as burglary. It is important that sentencing guidelines are stated clearly so that the public knows for certain that that is what sentencing is all about, and particularly that judicial discretion is taking those factors into consideration.

Baroness Stern: I support Amendment No. 160BCC, which relates to children under 18, and stress the importance of making it clear as often as possible in legislation that the sentencing of children—those under 18—is a very different matter from the sentencing of adults. The United Kingdom is a signatory to international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which should require us to use custody absolutely as a last resort, for the shortest possible time. The primary consideration in sentencing children should be the welfare of the child. Therefore, it seems to me appropriate that it should be clear that children are removed from the provisions.

I also support Amendment No. 160BJB, in the name of the noble Lords, Lord Dholakia and Lord Thomas of Gresford, which suggests that prison should be used, "as a last resort".

I thank the Minister for being so helpful in answer to my question about the Government's objectives with the measures. From her answer, it was clear that the Government have no view about the desirable or appropriate size of the criminal justice system nor, therefore, about the cost of criminal justice interventions, and that that is not an issue that affects these measures. Since in the real world money is limited and is unlikely to be available easily for the vast range of interventions that have been proposed, using prison as a last resort, and having that in legislation, seems a sensible policy. It is one for which any government would be grateful, as it at least suggests that they might have the money to fund whatever they feel is the most desirable course of action.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I shall respond first to the point just raised by the noble Baroness. Of course, the Government do have a view in relation to the utility of interrupting offending behaviour. The combination of the sentencing measures that we are bringing to bear should have the effect of reducing offending behaviour, thereby relieving the public of the abuse to which they are put by that offence. One hopes that it will also reduce the numbers of people whom we find we are obliged to imprison because of their activities.

We are clear that the sentencing framework should do more to support the purposes of crime reduction and reparation, which goes slightly wider than the definition of "compensation" that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, wanted. One can make reparation in a

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combination of ways—by saying "sorry", by doing work or paying money. There is a plethora of things that one can do under the heading "reparation" that go beyond compensation.

We also believe that we should continue to meet the needs of punishment. The clause aims to do that by setting out what we consider to be the purposes—though not the only ones—of sentencing. I refer to punishment, crime reduction, reparation and the reform and rehabilitation of offenders. During Committee stage in another place, we recognised in response to an amendment that reform and rehabilitation of offenders should form a purpose in their own right and made the appropriate changes. We are, however, not quite convinced by the additional proposals made in today's amendments.

I want to say a word to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carlisle, about the apparent conflict to which he alluded in the clause. I believe that he said that the reform and rehabilitation of offenders might be in conflict with each other.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: The conflict is with the principle of reducing by deterrence.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Not necessarily. If an offender reforms and rehabilitates, that should have the impact of reducing crime, because it should reduce the source and nature of their offending behaviour, which gives rise to more crime. The two do not necessarily act in conflict with each other.

It is right that, when a sentencer comes to consider the sentence, all those factors are borne in mind, so that the sentence overall not only gives voice to what will be consistent with punishing the offender but better protects the public as well. I welcome what the noble Lord, Lord Chan said, in support of the clarity and the need to have those factors in the Bill, so that everyone knows what we are talking about.

I appreciate that Amendment No. 160BCA is a probing amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, will not be at all surprised that we do not believe that the amendment, which would replace the drafting of the clause with a new version that adds to the purposes outlined, is helpful. I say clearly that we think it is already implicit in the drafting of Clause 135(1)(e) that reparation can be directed towards a victim, a group of victims or a community through the reference to "persons affected by offences". We agree that reparation to communities is equally as important as reparation to a particular victim but the clause already achieves this. Similarly, we do not think that a purpose which requires the court to have regard to the offender's awareness of the effects of crime on its victims and the public adds anything over and above what is already achieved through the reparative purpose. One of the tragedies of these cases is that often the offender blocks his or her mind entirely to the consequences of the offence on others, whether it concerns drink, drugs or other offences.

Nor do we think that the maintenance of public confidence and the prevalence of the offence in the locality should feature on the list of the purposes of

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sentencing. While we agree that sentencing and the framework within which it operates need to earn and merit public confidence, this is a complex relationship and not one in which sentencers can simply be "driven by the wind" of public mood. Public understanding of sentencing is regrettably low and the evidence suggests that the public are under-informed about sentencing severity and believe it to be more lenient than it is. We need to do much more to improve this but we should not make public confidence—or the prevalence of local offending—an aim of sentencing. This could lead to very inconsistent sentencing around different parts of the country. Creating an effective sentencing framework in which sentences and the treatment of offenders promote public confidence is certainly a necessary goal. We believe that there is sufficient flexibility in the way in which we currently phrase provisions to allow local expression of issues which are pressing and difficult in a particular area. Nor are we attracted by the suggested replacement in Amendment No. 160BCD of the purpose of punishment with one that refers to the,


    "holding of offenders to account for their offences".

We think that "punishment" is a better recognised and more widely used definition of one of the purposes of sentencing. We consider that Amendment No. 160BFA, which also adds a new purpose to the list (the treatment, reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders) duplicates the existing purpose—which is succinctly put in the reform and rehabilitation of offenders—which already provides for these elements to be taken into account.

We do not consider that Amendment No. 160BH adds anything useful. Sentencers will, of course, refer to any relevant guidelines when sentencing offenders to particular offences—the purposes in Clause 135 simply set out the framework for this consideration. However, I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that when the council drafts the guidelines with the purposes of sentences in mind there will be nothing to prevent it from issuing guidance on the interaction of the purposes if it deems that appropriate or necessary, or if experience indicates that might be helpful. Clause 165 already requires the court to have regard to any guidelines issued by the council. We seek to try to create consistent application of purpose and principle. As I say, in some cases the prevalence of local offending may mean that a particular offence attracts a different sentence in one part of the country than it does in another. However, that should not skewer the way in which the measure is put on the face of the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 160BCC and 160BJA seek both to restrict the existing purposes to over-18s, which they already are by virtue of Clause 135(2)(a), and to introduce a new principle for juveniles. I know that that is a matter which the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, and the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, are concerned about. However, this clause applies only to adults and although the welfare of juvenile offenders is indeed an important consideration in sentencing, courts are already required to have regard to it under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. We have recently published our proposals on youth justice in a consultation document called Youth Justice—The

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Next Steps, a companion document to the main children Green Paper, Every Child Matters. In it we set out our proposal to introduce a single main sentencing purpose for juvenile offenders. The consultation period lasts up to 1st December and we very much welcome views on this as well as on our other proposals contained in the document. We believe that this is an important issue and do not consider it sensible to make changes in law to the principles of juvenile sentencing in advance of the conclusion of this consultation process.

Amendments Nos. 160BJB to 160BJD all add to the clause in order to prescribe the way the court can use the purposes set out there. We do not consider them to be effective provisions as they over-complicate the drafting, are not directly relevant, or duplicate provisions elsewhere in the Bill. Amendment No. 160BJB requires the court to impose custody as a last resort, but there is already a clause—Clause 144—which deals with custodial thresholds and stipulates that custody should be imposed only when the offence is "so serious" that a community sentence or fine cannot be justified. We believe that that is a very clear provision.

Amendment No. 160BJC would require the court to state the purpose of each sentence passed and how it expects outcomes to be achieved. We do not think that this is helpful, particularly as there is a later clause—Clause 167—which requires the court to give reasons for a sentence passed and to explain its effect. Amendment No. 160BJD says that any sentence of the court should be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence, but this is a duplication of the principle stated in the next clause, Clause 136(1).

Finally, we do not consider Amendment No. 160BCB, which is a drafting amendment, to be an improvement on our formulation. However, it provided an important opportunity for clarification. I understand why the noble Baroness and the noble Lord tabled the amendments. It is right to probe the Government's thinking on the matter but I hope that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord will be satisfied with the explanations that I have given.


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