Saturday, 28 September 2013

Indecent Images of Children & the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme - A Reply.


"Attorney General says case cannot be taken to Court of Appeal despite several complaints the sentenced for Robert Finlay was unduly lenient
Robert Finlay, Barnes Crescent in East Howe, pleaded guilty to seventeen charges of making indecent images of children.
The 53 year old was convicted earlier this month but his 8 month suspended jail sentence was not welcomed by Bournemouth Council.
A spokesman at the time said: "While we are surprised with the suspended sentence we do accept the judge's decision".
The Attorney General's office received over fifteen complaints arguing it was 'unduly lenient'.
However, the office has told the breeze they cannot take the case to the court of appeal because only a limited number of crimes fall into the Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme (ULS).
They have released this statement:
"We received a number of complaints asking that the sentence handed down to Robert Finlay was considered as part of the unduly lenient sentencing (ULS) scheme. 
"However the ULS scheme only applies to a limited number of offences and making indecent photographs of a child is not one of those offences. 
"Therefore it is not possible for the law officers to refer this sentence to the Court of Appeal for review." 
Readers of my blog may recall that I have been trying to find out exactly why ULS Sentences relating to Indecent Images of Children cannot be reviewed under the ULS scheme. I have at last managed to find this out.
It all rests on the classification of the offence. Offences, I have learned, are placed into three classifications. These being "Summary Only", "Either Way" or "Indictable Only" offences.
Summary only ones are ones that can (nearly always) be tried in the Magistrates Court.
Either Way ones are ones that can be tried in either a Magistrates or a Crown Court.
Indictable Only are ones that are sent to a Crown Court for trial. A list of Indictable Only offences are contained Here and include over 200 crimes.
After trying for the last couple of months, I have finally received a (rather lengthy) response from the Sentencing Policy And Penalties unit, stating exactly why the offence of IIOC cannot be appealed against as Unduly Lenient. Part of this reply is produced below -
"You have also asked about the unduly lenient sentencing scheme and why it applies only to certain offences.  The scheme, whereby the Law Officers may refer sentences to the Court of Appeal to consider whether they are unduly lenient, is confined to those offences that are so serious that they must be tried at the Crown Court (‘indictable-only’ offences, such as rape or robbery), and to certain ‘either-way’ offences which, although they may be tried in the Crown Court or a magistrates’ court, are capable of being serious enough to justify a high maximum penalty. "
As the crime of downloading IIOC is not an "Indictable Only" offence, it therefore cannot be appealed against. Unfortunately this means, the next time you see someone who has downloaded thousands, tens, or hundreds of thousands of such images, and has been handed (for example) a small suspended sentence, there is nothing you can do to appeal.
Of course, this raises the question of why this crime is not considered "indictable only"? Surely, at least in my opinion, every and any paedophile crime should automatically be considered this...
Another time.... another challenge ...


  1. Thank you for providing this clarification. It is disappointing news but still important to know.

  2. You've raised a good question about the reasons for serious crimes against children not being "Indictable Only" offenses. Keep asking the right questions. Not enough do.