HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 c717W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken to implement the recommendation in the Halliday Report 'Making Punishments Work' which states that dependent children should be taken into consideration when sentencing mothers. [122955]

Paul Goggins

The Halliday report 'Making Punishments Work' advocated maintaining the principle of equal treatment and that there should be no preferential treatment between men and women offenders in sentencing. However, this does not mean the same sentences are necessarily right for different groups who may be differently affected. It is legitimate for a court to take into account the impact of a sentence on other people—including dependent children—as one part of the overall picture. The report recommended the establishment of a body with the power to issue guidelines on sentencing issues. The Government accepted this recommendation by proposing the setting up of the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which forms part of the Criminal Justice Bill at present before Parliament. The sentencing of mothers with dependent children is likely to be an issue which the Council will consider as part of its overall work.