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The wrong prescription

Removing the restrictions on judges' sentencing powers would give drug addicts more opportunities to undertake rehabilitation and reduce the risk of reoffending, says Lucy Corrin

13 October 2009

What approach should we take with recidivist domestic burglars? The Court of Appeal has firmly reinforced that there is a line beyond which these offenders may not tread; if they do, they can expect substantial custodial sentences even if their drug addiction is amenable to treatment. This arguably defeats the purpose of drug rehabilitation and sends the message that a certain category of offenders are beyond help.

In Bastow [2009] EWCA Crim 1834, an application was made by the Attorney General under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 for leave to refer a sentence as unduly lenient.

Bastow had been sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months. The period of suspension was subject to a number of conditions: a requirement of supervision, a drug rehabilitation order for six months, and a requirement that he complete a programme to address his drug-related offending.

The victim of the burglary was an elderly widow, who suffered from ...

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