HC Deb 07 March 2003 vol 400 cc1301-2W
Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to engage magistrates, lay magistrates, youth magistrates and other sentencers in the(a) design, (b) implementation and (c) management of community sentences and other alternatives to prison. [98879]

Hilary Benn

The Criminal Justice Bill extends the use of review courts from the drug treatment and testing order to the suspended sentence order, with further powers to introduce these for all community sentences in the future. Such courts provide sentencers with the opportunity directly to monitor an offender's progress. Sentencers will also engage closely in the use of all sentences through their representation on the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

The need for strong and effective liaison generally between the Probation Service, youth offending teams and the courts is well recognised, and arrangements have been put in place to facilitate and promote joint working practices. Such work is designed to ensure that sentencers have a full understanding of the suitability of various community penalties and their effectiveness, and that the National Probation Service and youth offending teams understand the expectations of sentencers of the services they provide. A permanent channel of communication is established through the appointment of a Sentencing Liaison Officer in each probation area, and continuous dialogue is encouraged on a local level through various mechanisms, including local criminal justice boards, and crime and disorder partnerships.

Forward to