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When a 6 month prison sentence is simply not enough

It’s always struck me as odd that a youth can receive a maximum sentence of 2 years detention, by way of a Detention & Training Order, in the Youth Court.

An adult, however, can only receive a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment, unless convicted of two or more ‘either-way’ offences.

In breaking news announced on 18 January 2022, Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, intends to double the maximum sentencing powers of the magistrates’ court from six months to 12 months imprisonment.

An imminent commencement order in England & Wales will ensure that the increased sentencing powers are brought into force, sooner rather than later.

The impact of this announcement will see less cases committed for sentence to the crown court, reducing both costs and the concerning backlog of cases at the crown court caused by the pandemic.

It’s estimated that 2,000 extra days of valuable Crown Court time will be freed up per annum.

Critics have responded, ‘too often summary justice is no justice’, while others argue that the increase doesn’t go far enough and should at least mirror the same maximum term (2 years) that a youth could receive in the Youth Court.

Find out more about magistrates’ sentencing powers.

Contact the Public Defender Service to instruct our criminal defence lawyers specialising in defending adults and youths.