§ Mr. Michael
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice his Department is offering sentencers and others on the extent to which judges and magistrates are expected to take previous offences into account when determining the level of seriousness of an offence.
§ Mr. Jack
The criteria for determining the seriousness of an offence for the purpose of deciding on an appropriate sentence are set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1991. However, it is for the courts alone to interpret the provisions of the Act as they apply to individual cases in the light of all the circumstances of the offence and the offender and any guidance which the Court of Appeal may issue in due course. In addition, a substantial programme of training for sentencers on all matters relating to the Act has been provided under the auspices of the Judicial Studies Board.