§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to reduce the number of people in prison.
§ Mr. Jack
It is for the court to decide, within the framework provided by Parliament, whether a custodial sentence is appropriate in any individual case.
A new sentencing framework was created by the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which came into force on 1 October 1992. It is based on the clear proposition that the sentence passed should match the seriousness of the offence committed. It provides, therefore, that the use of custodial sentences should be confined to offences whose seriousness is such that only a custodial sentence can be justified and as a consequence enhances the role of non-custodial sentences. Pre-sentence reports are now mandatory in an increased range of cases, to ensure that courts receive relevant advice on the suitability of possible community sentences.
Population of sentenced young offenders in Prison Service establishments by age: August, September and October 1992 Number of persons All young offenders Aged under 17 Aged 17 Aged 18–20 1Aged 21 31 August 262 450 3,979 877 5,568 30 September2 — — — — 5,384 31 October2 — — — — 5,113 1 Prisoners aged 21 who have not been reclassified from young offenders to adults. 2 An age breakdown is not yet available for these dates.