NI: Ford extends offences that can be appealed for unduly lenient sentences

NI: Ford extends offences that can be appealed for unduly lenient sentences

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister David Ford has announced an increase in the number of offences that can be referred to the Court of Appeal due to unduly lenient sentences.

The offences relate to indecent images of children, modern slavery and serious assault.

Mr Ford said: “Following a review of the law on Unduly Lenient Sentences, I have decided to increase the number of offences which can be referred where it appears that the sentence passed is unduly lenient.

“I have listened to victims, elected representatives and the wider community and recognise that many of these offences are areas of public concern.

“The independence of the sentencing process is fundamentally important but equally I recognise there should be avenues to challenge sentences for serious offences that are considered unduly lenient.

“By including these offences in the Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme it will send an important message that these crimes will not be tolerated and will help to safeguard continued public confidence in the justice system.”

The offences which are affected by the changes are:

  • an offence under section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (inflicting bodily injury, with or without weapon);
  • an offence under article 3 of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (indecent photographs of children);
  • an offence under article 15 of the Criminal Justice (Evidence, Etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (possession of indecent photograph of child);
  • an offence under article 4 of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (prohibition on unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal, etc., of waste);
  • an offence under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009(slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour);
  • an offence under section 4 of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (unnecessary suffering); and
  • an offence under section 8(1) and 8(2) of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (animal fighting etc).
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