HC Deb 31 January 1989 vol 146 cc109-10W
Mr. Arbuthnot

To ask the Attorney-General how he envisages exercising the power to refer unduly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, after it comes into force on 1 February.

The Attorney-General

I shall exercise this important power conscientiously and with discrimination. I do not envisage that the cases will be numerous in which it will be appropriate to use it. It applies to sentencing for offences triable only on indictment. These are the more harmful offences, tending to give rise to the greatest public concern. Reference is available only for a sentence that is characterised by undue leniency, not for one that is no more than arguably on the lenient side.

A strict time limit is imposed for a reference. Application to the court must be made by me within 28 days of the sentence being passed, and it is accordingly important that steps are taken to put the necessary machinery in action as soon as possible. I therefore hope that those who wish to make representations will do so, in the first instance, to the authority responsible for conducting the relevant prosecution. In the majority of cases the prosecution will have been conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service and in those cases representations should accordingly be made to the Director of Public Prosecution.