Sentencing- Sara Payne's proposals

Sara Payne, the Government's Victims' Adviser, wants judges to spell out the exact amount of time a criminal is likely to spend in prison.

Sara Payne blames complex sentencing rules which prevent victims from having a clear picture of how long their attacker will be behind bars.

Sara has conducted a nine-month review of the criminal justice system and would like to see changes to the law to make anti-social behaviour a criminal offence.

Sara does not believe it is right to attempt to deal with 'relatively serious' offences with anti-social behaviour orders and dispersal orders instead of prosecution through the criminal courts.

Sara has clearly not forgotten the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter, after a campaign of harassment by youths, and this may well have influenced her when carrying out her review.

Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, has not identified the need for tougher laws maintaining the laws in place at the moment are good enough. He has instead called for a greater effort from police and councils to combat anti-social behaviour.

Sara's report entitled Redefining Justice, further highlights the plight of victims, calling for victims to be given ready access to information about their case.

Sara has campaigned for victims' rights since her daughter Sarah was murdered by sex offender Roy Whiting in 2000.

This is not the first time Sara has taken to the campaign trail.  Many of you may remember her efforts to establish what has become known as  'Sarah's Law' allowing residents access to information about convicted sex offenders in their neighbourhood. 

Sara clearly still holds strong views about the justice system, saying: ''Victims and witnesses deserve better from the justice system - a system that in the past only defined justice as catching the criminal and protecting the public.  While these are vital, it leaves the needs of the victim second - with a high risk that their lives will be left shattered.  Traditionally we have categorised victims and their needs by the type of crime committed against them.  Delivering justice must become about supporting the victim to overcome the impact a crime has had on them so that they can get on with their lives.''

Let's hope the government listens for a change.  The case of Professor David Nutt as senior drugs adviser , suggests that the government sometimes does not always want to hear!


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