HC Deb 23 March 1972 vol 833 cc1657-8
10. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will express as a percentage of the maximum penalty the average fine imposed by the courts in implementing Section 20(2) of the Firearms Act, 1968, relating to trespassing with a firearm on land.

The Minister of State for the Home Department (Mr. Richard Sharples)

Between 1st August, 1968, and the end of 1970 the average fine imposed on summary conviction in England and Wales for this offence was 6.6 per cent. of the maximum.

Mr. Farr

Is not this sort of watery inaction by the courts making the task of the police much more difficult and acting as no deterrent whatever? What will he do about it?

Mr. Sharples

Adequate penalties are available to the courts, and they are being increased by the Criminal Justice Bill now before Parliament. It is not for me to criticise the actions of the courts.

Mr. John Fraser

As the maximum penalty is only £100, if there is evidence that the courts are not taking into account very strong feelings expressed by both Parliament and country, will the hon. Gentleman consider holding sentencing conferences so that the matter can be discussed and the feelings of Parliament and the country can be made known to the courts?

Mr. Sharples

I am sure that the courts will take note of the views expressed on this matter in the House.

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