A SCHEME responding to public concerns about lenient sentences by judges has seen West Midlands criminals serve an additional 72 years behind bars, according to new figures.
Newly released latest statistics released by the office of the attorney general, Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright, also show 27 offenders in the West Midlands were sent to prison for longer under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
The office claims it has helped more victims and their families get justice than ever before.
One such current high-profile referral for a sentence review under ULS is the case of convicted breast surgeon Ian Paterson – who performed unnecessary operations on his patients in the Solihull region.
Under the ULS scheme, victims of crime and members of the public can ask for certain sentences to be increased.
The Attorney or Solicitor General then asks the Court of Appeal to review the sentence if they believe the court made an error in sentencing.
A total of 31 cases covering our region originally heard at the crown courts of Warwick (Leamington Justice Centre), Worcester, Stafford, Birmingham and Wolverhampton in 2016 were sent to the appeal court under the scheme, the new figures show.
The appeal court acted in 27 cases, says the attorney general – including five community sentences that were replaced with custodial sentences, three of these related to sexual offences.
Mr Wright said: “The ULS scheme allows victims of crime, their families and the public to challenge sentences that they believe are too low, and last year we saw a record number of sentences increased.
“A sentencing exercise is not an exact science and in the vast majority of cases, judges get it right. The scheme is available to ensure that the Solicitor General and I can independently review those cases where there may have been an error in the sentencing decision.”
Julie Fellows, 31, originally appeared at Worcester Crown Court in August last year where she was found guilty of indecently assaulting a boy aged between 6 and 9 and sexual activity with a boy aged between 14 and 16.
Following a referral under the ULS scheme, Fellows had her sentence increased from a two-year suspended prison sentence to five years imprisonment.