Friday, 2 September 2011

Rioters, ordinary criminals not special cases

by , Mary Riddell and Christopher Hope

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Keir Starmer says those convicted of involvement in the riots should not be seen as a “separate category”, as some judges have argued.
Instead, he says, the Crown Prosecution Service and other legal authorities “need to keep our feet on the ground” and “remind ourselves that we are dealing with ordinary criminal cases”.
Surveys have suggested that courts have handed down sentences to those involved in the riots that are about a quarter longer than normal. Some people have been incarcerated for months for stealing low-value items.
Mr Starmer makes clear that he is not commenting on individual sentencing. However, his warning that disorder cases should be treated like all others will be taken as a signal that he opposes the tough line taken by many, the Prime Minister included.
His remarks raise the prospect that many of the sentences will be reduced by the appeal courts. “We should not treat these cases as a separate category,” he says. “We should treat them as we do any other case.”

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