§ 28. Mrs. Gorman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the penalties that can be awarded by the courts for violent offences against women.
§ Mr. Jack
Courts already have at their disposal tough maximum penalties for violent crimes against women, as against any victim: life imprisonment is mandatory for murder and is the maximum penalty for manslaughter, rape and the most serious woundings. Indecent assault carries up to 10 years' imprisonment. Within these maxima, it is for the courts alone to determine the most appropriate sentences in individual cases in the light of all the available information about the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances of the offender.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which came into force on 1 October 1991, the courts now have enhanced powers to sentence violent and sexual offenders; within the statutory maxima, courts may pass longer custodial sentences than would be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence, if it is necessary to protect the public from serious harm.