The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) has issued judgment in relation to ten appeals against sentences imposed for convictions arising from the August disorder.
On 20th August, in a post related to the August disorder, Law and Lawyers looked at relevant sentencing principles and also at the views arrived at by the Crown Court judiciary in Manchester. It was clear, even at that stage, that the context of widespread disorder would be seen as a serious aggravation of offences such as burglary, theft and handling stolen goods. The 20th August post commented that – “It must be doubtful whether the Court of Appeal would adopt a substantially different viewpoint” to that of the Manchester judiciary.
This has proved to be the case though the Court of Appeal said that it is inappropriate for Crown Court judges to “issue, or appear to be issuing, sentencing guidelines.” That is a task for
the Court of Appeal and the Sentencing Council – and the court and council have a relationship of “mutual respect and comity.”
In a 1996 episode of The Simpsons, a bear frightens residents of Springfield by strolling down from the mountains. Homer rallies an unruly mob and convinces the town mayor to create a state of the art Bear Patrol, including branded stealth bombers. All is well until Homer receives his pay cheque, which includes an additional $5 “bear tax”.
Which of the proposed responses to this month’s rioting and looting will be a bear patrol, that is a disproportionate and expensive response prompted by an unruly mob of citizens demanding action?
In the wake of the recent violence in cities across England, the police have been releasing photographs of individuals in an appeal to the public for assistance in identifying them and bringing them to justice.
As the crisis has developed, politicians and police spokespeople have professed a strong intention to ensure that all the rioters and looters face the consequences of their actions. As of this morning, in London alone 888 people have been arrested and 371 people have been charged with offences relating to their involvement in the riots, and courts in London, Manchester and Solihull have remained open through the night in order to process these cases as swiftly as possible. Yet with the number of people involved likely to be in the thousands, there are many more who remain unidentified.
New and social media have seen almost blanket coverage of the events, so I have little to add, save to link to some interesting legal coverage of the issues involving policing policy, blaming social media, vigilante justice, journalists’ rights and paying for damage under riot law.
One issue which sadly has not arisen from these riots is freedom of speech; it would appear that there has been little sense or motive behind the violence following the initial catalyst.
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