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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 12:58 GMT
'Mixed messages' on burglary?
Burglary
Are ministers and judges at one on punishing burglars?
The Conservatives have accused the government of delivering mixed messages on how first-time burglars should be sentenced.

Here is what judges and ministers have said on this touchstone issue.


19 December 2002

Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, says the average non-violent, non-professional first time burglar should not be jailed.

The UK's most senior judge said the change was "intended to provide better protection for the public and to result in some reduction in the use of custody".

He added: "The public will benefit from this approach as it requires appropriate action to tackle the offending behaviour of the offender.

"It will also result in a saving in the expense of imprisonment."

6 January, 2003

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme he backs the ruling.

"I do not accept people are disturbed at first time burglars, or even second time burglars, where there are no aggravated elements in the burglary, not going to prison...

"Prison is not good at preventing people from reconvicting. The evidence is that community sentences are better at preventing people from reconvicting."

9 January 2003

Home Office Minister John Denham tells Today it depends on the circumstances whether first time burglars are jailed.

"There is no bar on judges putting first time offenders into prison if they believe it is right.

"I think personally that one of the factors that must be taken into account is the type of trauma suffered by the victims...

"But it is also the case that they will be first time offenders for whom the appropriate punishment is not necessarily jail.

"If someone has, for example, a drug problem then getting drug treatment with a community sentence may be better."


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See also:

09 Jan 03 | Politics
06 Jan 03 | Politics
09 Jan 03 | Politics
20 Dec 02 | Politics
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