HC Deb 16 April 2002 vol 383 cc869-70W
Mr. Andrew Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which criminal cases it is possible for the prosecution to appeal against(a) conviction and (b) sentence; and what proposals he has to extend the list of such cases. [47122]

Mr. Keith Bradley

There are no powers for the prosecution to appeal against conviction.

At present, under the provisions of Sections 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 the Attorney-General has power to refer to the Court of Appeal cases where the sentence imposed appears to be unduly lenient. The power applies to sentences passed in the Crown court in relation to all indictable offences and to certain triable either way offences specified in orders made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Mr. Blunkett) under section 35(4) of the 1988 Act. The latter applies to offences of indecent assault, threats to kill, cruelty to children and serious fraud sentenced in the Crown court, including those committed for sentence after conviction in magistrates courts.

An order extending the Attorney-General's powers in relation to unduly lenient sentences came into effect on 21 August 2000, and applies to sentences passed after that date. This enables the Attorney-General to refer to the Crown court, sentences imposed for offences of illegal trafficking in drugs and pornographic material involving children and offences specifically against children (unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, inciting a girl under 16 to have incestuous intercourse and indecent conduct towards a young child). The Government will keep under review whether further extensions should be made in future.

The Government are also committed to reforming the double jeopardy rule for murder cases, which would enable the prosecution to reopen proceedings following an acquittal, in certain circumstances. We are considering the nature and extent of this reform in light of the Law Commission's report, and Sir Robin Auld's review of the criminal courts.