HC Deb 05 December 1985 vol 88 cc315-6W
51. Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the efficacy of sentencing powers currently available for crimes of violence, manslaughter and murder.

Mr. Mellor

Long prison sentences may be imposed for offences of violence, and the Government's policy on the release of life sentence prisoners and on the granting of parole is designed to reinforce their deterrent effect. We are satisfied that the maximum penalties currently available are sufficient to enable the courts to deal adequately with the worst cases, though the effectiveness of sentencing powers is not easy to measure and they are by no means the only relevant factor in preventing violent crime.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to implement paragraph 76 of the Nairobi conference document "Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women" relating to guidance to law enforcement and other authorities on dealing with women who are victims of violent crimes.

Mr. Giles Shaw

There is a comprehensive body of law on sexual offences in this country, and penalties for attempted rape and indecent assault against a woman have recently been very substantially increased in line with recommendations of the Criminal Law Revision Committee. Home Office circular 25/1983, issued in March 1983, gave comprehensive guidance to chief constables on the investigation of rape offences. It stressed the need for sensitivity and tact in the treatment of victims and encouraged chief constables to keep training needs under constant review.