Record 141 prison sentences increased after complaints

Prison officer locking a cell door Image copyright PA

A record number of criminals have had their sentences increased after people complained that they were too lenient.

The Attorney General's Office said 141 terms were added to in England and Wales in 2016 under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, up by 39 from 2015.

These included 41 sex offences, 19 of grievous bodily harm with intent and 16 involving robbery.

Only one person needs to ask for a sentence to be reviewed, and anyone - not just the victim - can request it.

Thirty offenders - including an arsonist, someone carrying a firearm and two men guilty of child neglect - had community sentences replaced with immediate custody.

Fourteen sex offenders who originally escaped being sent to prison are now serving time.

One rapist and one attempted murderer had their determinate sentences replaced with life sentences.

There were 837 requests for a review, a 17% rise on the previous year.

The Attorney General and Solicitor General referred 190 cases to the Court of Appeal to be looked at again, compared with 135 in 2015.

The increases represent a tiny proportion of the 80,000 Crown Court cases heard each year.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said: "The Unduly Lenient Sentence 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."

From 8 August, an additional 19 terror-related offences will be added to the list of sentences that can be increased if found to be unduly lenient.