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Head of Sentencing Council signals tougher sentences

The new chairman of the Sentencing Council has announced that stricter punishments for those guilty of violent rapes will be introduced later this year.

Lord Justice Treacy, who succeeds Lord Leveson in the post, said the new guidelines, which will be published in mid-December, will contain a recommendation that those instances of rape which include extreme violence will have a starting point of 15 years, as opposed to the current 12. He says that this will reflect the greater concentration now on the experience of victims which has not always been the case in the past.

In his first major statement since taking up the role, Treacy said that overall levels of sentences in sexual offences have increased in recent years, adding that this will be reflected in existing judicial practice.

The Sentencing Council’s reports cover a range of topics and, as well as extreme violence in rape cases, will also look at theft offences and the effect of guilty pleas on prison terms. A separate report by the Ministry of Justice has stated that sex attackers and violent offenders, who are given short sentences, re-offend at a rate of more than 50% within a year of their release.

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