By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Tougher sentences should be introduced for criminals across the county, says Kent’s police and crime commissioner.
Calls were made to increase the length of convictions for lawbreakers during a virtual meeting of the Kent and Medway police and crime panel yesterday (December 8).
PCC Matthew Scott said: “I think the sentences judges give out are far too low in many circumstances.
“That impacts on victim confidence and it does not give prisons the opportunity to work with those offenders long enough to help rehabilitate.”
Tonbridge and Malling Cllr Mark Rhodes (Con), who is a member of the panel, has lobbied for a national review of crime sentencing after claiming that some residents believe punishments are “far too light”.
The panel was told that Parliament legislation states that prison sentences for Covid spitting attacks can last up to 24 months.
In the meeting, Mr Scott said criminals who cough and spit on emergency service staff were “scumbags” whose actions could be life-threatening for the police and NHS staff.
New measures came into force this week which saw the maximum penalty for animal cruelty, such as animal fighting, increase to up to five years in prison. The previous toughest sentence was 12 months in jail.
Cllr Rhodes, Tonbridge council’s cabinet member for community services, has called for a government review. He added: “Life sentences should mean life. Shoplifting punishments appear derisory.
“In fact the whole spectrum of sentencing in my view needs reviewing, taking into account the public’s desire to see the punishment fit the crime.”
He urged Mr Scott to take the issue up with England’s 40 other police and crime commissioners. This comes three months after Mr Scott said he would be seeking greater powers from Whitehall in the criminal justice arena,
Concluding, Mr Scott said: “I would very much support crime sentencing to be reviewed so life does mean life and people are going to prison for a decent amount of time that reflects the seriousness of the crime that they do commit.
“At the same time they must get the education to turn their lives around in prison because otherwise it will be four years in, no rehabilitation in place, then they will commit more crime.”