The Clean Sweep
On 23 May 2019 the Government introduced a bill in Parliament aimed at creating a new sentencing code in the criminal courts. The declared aim of the bill is to tidy up the country’s complex sentencing laws. The intention is that those convicted will be sentenced according to the law at the date of that conviction irrespective of when the offence was committed. The Government however has recognised that there are some unpalatable anomalies where a greater penalty is currently available than that which was law at the time of the offence and the Government has announced its intention to build into the legislation a safety valve to ensure that no offender gets a greater penalty than he would have at the time.
There are indeed many anomalies in terms of sentencing and Ralli Solicitors LLP welcomes the code and recognises the need for consistency and the benefit of everybody to knowing where they stand. However we see a need for caution.
Defendants are individuals and we have a wealth of knowledge and diversity in our judiciary. We need to ensure that sentencing remains carried out by humans with human emotions including compassion. We must not take a step further down the line to ‘tick box justice’ where the elite create the questions and a robotic box ticking system takes over from human judgement. More and more the public realise in their everyday lives that when they go online or fill in a survey the questions which they want to answer and the matters which they think are important just are not available to be expressed and surveys are manipulated by those setting the questions. Our law should be by humans for humans and bring to the judge’s bench all the experience of the University of Life, both from the judge and also those giving evidence before him or her. To think that all cases of a particular category are the same is misguided and the law of convenience without proper enquiry should be avoided at all costs. Contrary to the popular song we do not ‘live in boxes little boxes all the same’ and we don’t wish to.