HL Deb 04 April 1989 vol 505 cc1087-8WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidance they have given or will give to magistrates and judges in order to avoid the unnecessary imprisonment of women, especially mothers of young children, whether on remand or after sentence.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

Decisions on remand and sentencing are a matter for the courts. A circular was issued in May 1988 reminding magistrates of the terms of the Bail Act 1976. It pointed out that some of the considerations, to which the courts had to have regard in making decisions on bail, were often particularly relevant to women defendants with family responsibilities.

The handbook The Sentence of the Court reflects Court of Appeal guidance on the use of custody. It suggests that courts should bear in mind the likelihood of a custodial sentence inflicting hardship on the offender's family, but it does not refer specifically to women offenders. This will be done in the next edition.