Thursday, 03 September 2015

Sentencing lottery for sex offenders

SEX offenders are more likely to be sent to prison in Carlisle than Preston – but more than three in ten are not jailed at either.

A worrying investigation by a Yorkshire MP Philip Davies has revealed the disparities in sentencing in the 76 crown courts across the country.

Cumbrian criminals are tried at Preston Crown Court – incorporating Lancaster and Barrow – or Carlisle Crown Court.

No court in the country sent all criminals guilty of sex offences to prison. Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire jailed the most with 94 per cent, compared to 67 per cent in Carlisle and 63 per cent in Preston – ranking it the eighth lowest court in terms of the number of sex offenders being sent to prison.

Dorchester, Swindon and Salisbury courts sent all people found guilty of robbery to prison compared with Preston where 84 per cent of criminals were jailed and 84 per cent in Carlisle.

Across all offences, people sent to Carlisle Crown Court for trial stand more of a chance of avoiding prison than people sent to Preston.

Carlisle sent more sex offenders and burglars to prison than Preston, but judges in Preston were tougher on robbery, violence, drugs, criminal damage, fraud and other indictable offences.

The biggest discrepancy across the two courts were sentencing for indictable motoring offences whereby Carlisle judges sent 22 per cent of those found guilty to prison, compared to 53 per cent in Preston.

Mr Davies said: "I hope this league table puts pressure on judges sitting in our area to look at what is happen ing and hand out tougher sentences.

"It seem to me, unacceptable that your chances of being sent to prison is based on the court where your case is heard not on the seriousness of the offence you commit.

"Sexual offences are some of the most serious crimes that are committed and terrible for the victims.

“It is about time that courts started taking them as seriously."

In total 2,532 people were found guilty at Preston Crown Court in 2010, the latest available figures, of which 49 per cent were sent to prison, the data shows.

In Carlisle 637 people were found guilty, of which 42 per cent were given immediate custodial sentences.

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