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8 Jan 2014

Sentencing statistics should not be manipulated to stoke up fear

Responding to press coverage of sentencing statistics today, Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

“It is disappointing that these statistics are being manipulated to stoke up fear. It is clear that the most serious violent and sexual crimes are resulting in prison sentences. But the reality of these crimes is a lot more complex than some politicians would like us to believe. It may be a 15-year-old sleeping with his 14-year-old girlfriend, a ‘burglary’ involving a homeless person getting into someone’s shed or a ‘child abduction’ with a divorcee failing to return kids on time after an access visit. Prison is a simplistic answer in many cases. Police and judicial discretion are crucial within properly considered national guidelines. The truth is that the number of people behind bars has doubled in the past 20 years, with many people who have committed non-violent crimes being imprisoned needlessly.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The sentencing statistics, disclosed by Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright in response to a parliamentary question by Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan, can be read here.

Further information

Rob Preece
Press Officer
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