Sentencing council plan by penal reform group

A NEW Sentencing Council is proposed as part of a radical package of reforms unveiled last week by the Penal Affairs Consortium pressure group.

The council would consist of senior judiciary figures and operate as part of the Court of Appeal, the group says.

Regular guidelines would be issued to courts to ensure that offences are met with appropriate sentences.

The proposal is one of 40 in the consortium's 'Joint manifesto for penal reform', published to mark the centenary of the Gladstone Report which introduced the idea of rehabilitation into the prison system.

Paul Cavadino, the consortium's chair, says: “The arguments for penal reform are as valid today as they were a

century ago.

“Our joint manifesto sets out a blueprint for change designed to bring about a smaller prison population, held in a system treating prisoners with humanity, dignity and respect.”

Other proposals include revising the Bail Act 1976 to cut the number of remands in custody, reorganising the prison system into community prisons which place convicts near home, and a new Prisons Act that would set out the minimum jail standards.