‘We need to put the unelected Sentencing Council back in its left-wing, politically correct box,’ blasts Philip Davies

Royal Courts of Justice

‘We need to put the unelected Sentencing Council back in its left-wing, politically correct box,’ blasts Phillip Davies

Philip Davies

By Philip Davies

Published: 30/03/2024

- 11:25

Updated: 30/03/2024

- 11:26

The Tory MP believes the new guidelines are ‘extremely patronising’

From Monday judges and magistrates can hand out more lenient sentences to people described as having a “difficult and/or deprived background”. Amongst other things, “poverty” is included as an example of this mitigating factor.

This change was initially recommended on the basis that it only applied to offences of theft and robbery because these were crimes with a potential connection to poverty. However, the Sentencing Council who are responsible for the sentencing guidelines used in courts have made it a whole lot worse by deciding to apply this mitigating factor to all offences.

By introducing this, we will now see some people treated more leniently by judges and magistrates simply because they are poorer. I think this is extremely patronising and an insult to all the hard-working, law-abiding people also on low incomes. Often it is actually those who come from the poorest communities who will be the victims of the crimes in these cases and I do not believe for one second they will be very impressed to hear that someone has been treated more leniently for committing a crime against them when they come from the same background.

What on earth has any offence – let alone offences like assault and dangerous driving – got to do with poverty? Why should someone who is poorer than somebody else get less of a sentence for punching someone?

Lord Justice William Davis

The Council's chairman is Lord Justice William Davis


The new guidelines also include other examples amongst the difficult or deprived background mitigating factor. These include “low educational attainment”. Again, what has someone’s education level got to do with committing an offence? You do not need to do well at school or get a degree to know the difference between right and wrong or what is legal and what is not. In fact, I often hear of cases of criminals who are extremely ingenious in their crimes and if only they were to put that effort into legitimate aims they could do very well.

Other factors that can reduce a sentence will be “negative experiences of authority” and “experience of having been a looked after child (in care)”. The list goes on.


This is going to be every defence lawyer’s dream. I bet there will not be many people represented in courts up and down the country where at least one of these factors is not rolled out by lawyers trying to keep them out of prison.

Another annoying consequence of this ill-thought-out idea is that these excuses are not going to be limited to being used just once – they can be used time and time again as a get-out-of-jail-free card. There could be a prolific burglar whose solicitor tells the court he should be treated more leniently because he was in care when he was 5 or because he had a run-in with a teacher when he was 10. I cannot believe courts are actually going to be having to deal with such possible nonsense but I fear that they will.

I am afraid it also gets worse. The icing on the cake comes with another example under the difficult or deprived background banner – that is “experience of discrimination”. What has that got to do with anything? How are sentencers even supposed to know if someone has experienced discrimination? Or does this just apply to everyone because I am sure anyone could come up with something from their dim and distant past if it meant a lighter sentence? Or they could just make something up – who would know?

In the Sentencing Council consultation, I placed an objection to these proposals as did the Government, but they are proceeding with them anyway.

We need to put the unelected and unaccountable Sentencing Council back in its left-wing politically correct box.

You may like