Ford acts on Unduly Lenient Sentences

Date published: 25 February 2016

Justice Minister David Ford has announced unduly lenient sentences in relation to indecent images of children, modern slavery and serious assault will be among offences which can now be referred to the Court of Appeal.

Animal cruelty and unauthorised disposal of waste are also among offences under new legislation which comes into effect on 1 April 2016 which allows the Director of Public Prosecutions to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal where it appears that the sentence passed is unduly lenient.

David Ford said: “Following a review of the law on Unduly Lenient Sentences, I have decided to increase the number of offences which can be referred where it appears that the sentence passed is unduly lenient.

“I have listened to victims, elected representatives and the wider community and recognise that many of these offences are areas of public concern. The independence of the sentencing process is fundamentally important but equally I recognise there should be avenues to challenge sentences for serious offences that are considered unduly lenient.

“By including these offences in the Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme it will send an important message that these crimes will not be tolerated and will help to safeguard continued public confidence in the justice system.”

Notes to editors: 

1. This measure is contained within the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Review of Sentencing) Order (Northern Ireland) 2016.

 2. The consultation on the Law on Unduly Lenient Sentences was carried out between February and May 2015 and the Summary of responses can be found here .

3. The Order applies to any case in which sentence is passed on a person for any of the following offences-

(a) an offence under section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (inflicting bodily injury, with or without weapon);

(b) an offence under Article 3 of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (indecent photographs of children);

(c) an offence under Article 15 of the Criminal Justice (Evidence, Etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (possession of indecent photograph of child);

(d) an offence under Article 4 of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (prohibition on unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal, etc., of waste);

(e) an offence under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour);

(f) an offence under section 4 of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (unnecessary suffering); and

(g) an offence under section 8(1) and 8(2) of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (animal fighting etc).

4.  All media enquiries should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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