HC Deb 18 October 1976 vol 917 cc263-4W
Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of Lord Justice Edward Sutcliffe's remarks in the Central Criminal Court about the sentences which he was able to give young men, all under 18 years of age involved in a four-man rape case as being a mockery of the young woman's suffering, he will bring forward an amendment to the Children and Young Persons Act to make imprisonment a mandatory sentence for those of all ages found guilty of rape.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

No doubt the hon. Member has by now seen Judge Sutcliffe's further statement in which he corrected the impression conveyed in his earlier remarks. The Crown Court has power under Section 53(2) of the Chidren and Young Persons Act 1933, as amended, to order a young person aged under 17 who is found guilty of rape to be detained for such period, not exceeding the maximum term of imprisonment with which the offence is punishable in the case of an adult, as may be specified in the sentence. The maximum term of imprisonment for rape is life. Where such detention is ordered the offender concerned is liable to be detained in such place and on such conditions as the Secretary of State may direct. I see no need for any amendment to these provisions; in particular, I would not favour a mandatory sentence.