More than 100 offenders had their prison terms extended in 2015 under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme – a success rate of one in seven for those who requested that sentences be reviewed. 

Statistics published by the attorney general’s office show that sexual offences were by far the most common category of crime involved, accounting for 38 of 102 extended terms imposed.

Robbery (15) and firearms offences (13) were the next most common, while murder or manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and burglary each accounted for seven instances.

Attorney general Jeremy Wright QC (pictured) said: ‘While in the vast majority of cases sentencing judges get it right, the ULS scheme is essential in ensuring victims, family members of victims and the general public are able to request that sentences they think are unduly lenient can be reviewed and, where necessary, increased.’

The AG must receive a complaint from at least one member of the public for a sentence to reviewed. Complaints can only be made about Crown court sentences imposed for particular crimes and must be lodged within 28 days of sentencing.

Wright stressed that 102 cases resulting in increases was a small proportion of the 80,000 Crown court cases heard each year. The AG’s office received 713 requests for sentences to be reviewed under the ULS scheme in 2015.

Of those, 136 were referred by the AGO to the Court of Appeal as potentially unduly lenient, with the court agreeing to increase the original sentence for 102 offenders.

The number of sentences considered by the AGO has increased by more than 108% since 2010: from 342 sentences to 713 last year. But referrals by the AG to the Court of Appeal that resulted in sentence increases only rose from 90 to 102 – showing that the judiciary ‘generally get it right’, the AG’s office reiterated.