HC Deb 24 October 2001 vol 373 c283W
Mr. Grieve

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to require sentences to state, when passing sentence,(a) the existence of and (b) the potential effect on the date of earliest release of the home detention curfew scheme; and if he will make a statement. [9489]

Beverley Hughes

In January 1998 the then Lord Chief Justice issued a practice direction to the courts requiring them to explain the practical effect of the custodial sentences they imposed. This aimed to ensure transparency in sentencing for the benefit of the defendant, any victim and the public.

The practice direction does not prescribe a form of words in which the court's explanation should be given. It does, however, provide models to be adapted as necessary. These models do not cover the possibility of home detention curfew (HDC) since they pre-date its introduction, but the direction does make it clear that they are based on the statutory provisions in place on 1 January 1998 and will require modification if those provisions are materially amended. Since HDC can clearly be considered a "material amendment" it is appropriate for inclusion in the court's explanation. However, a sentencing court is not in a position to know whether the offender before it will be eligible for consideration for HDC or, if eligible, whether it will be granted. I am satisfied that this practice direction is adequate to promote transparency in sentencing and that legislation is not necessary.