HC Deb 20 May 1999 vol 331 c1212
33. Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)

How many unduly lenient sentences he has referred to the Court of Appeal since 1 May 1997. [83880]

The Attorney-General

Since 1 May 1997, leave has been sought in respect of 171 offenders, and 117 applications have been heard. Leave was granted in 112 applications and the sentence increased in 96, which is 83.4 per cent. of references that have been heard.

Mr. Grieve

Does the Attorney-General consider that those figures reflect satisfactorily on the sentencing system in this country, or does he think that the number of cases on which he sought to make reference suggests that uniformity of sentencing is not being properly achieved?

The Attorney-General

Only a tiny proportion of cases before the Crown courts are referred. They are those in which it is necessary so to do to ensure that public confidence is maintained. Over the years, the figures have been roughly the same; there was a dip in 1996 and 1997, and an increase in 1998 to a figure nearer to what it used to be in 1995. Generally, the figure is about the same. I believe that that is right and that it is shown in the results in the figures from the Court of Appeal that I have already given.