HL Deb 17 December 2003 vol 655 c149WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to A Bitter Pill to Swallow—The Sentencing of foreign national drug couriers, which was published in November by Rethinking Crime and Punishment. [HL90]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

The Government welcome Rethinking Crime and Punishment's contribution to the debate on best ways of handling drug traffickers. The main thrust of its recommendations is that drug couriers should be considered for community sentences and that arrangements should be made to allow Jamaican offenders sentenced to community penalities in the United Kingdom to serve them in Jamaica. It is for the court to consider in each case what sentence would be appropriate, taking into account all the circumstances of the offence and the offender. However, importation of drugs is a serious offence and it is unlikely that a community penalty would be appropriate. Enabling community sentences to be served in Jamaica would require changes to Jamaican as well as British legislation. More generally, the Government are continuing to work with the Jamaican authorities to put in place an assistance programme for Jamaica, including on security, crime and the underlying causes of crime and violence. A specific initiative begun in 2002 by the Jamaican authorities and supported by the United Kingdom has been instrumental in reducing significantly the number of couriers with internal concealments travelling in and being detected in the United Kingdom.