Debate: Are judges right to hand out tough sentences to rioters?

UK: The rush to send out a message in the wake of the riots is leading to “some very bad sentences”, campaigners said today.

The Howard League for Penal Reform warned against judges and magistrates handing out disproportionate sentences as two men who tried to incite a riot on Facebook were jailed for four years - even though the riots they tried to plan never happened.

But the Crown Prosecution Service defended the tough punishments, saying the web pages caused “significant panic and revulsion” to the people of Cheshire.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, appeared at Chester Crown Court yesterday after police discovered Facebook pages created by the men which urged rioting in their home towns.

But Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns for the Howard League, said: “The rush to send a message out is leading to some very bad sentences, which will be overturned on appeal.

“It will be a further drag on the court system, which is already struggling - and that’s before considering the pressures on the prison system.”

- What do you think? Are judges right to send out a message to would-be thugs? Or are the sentences over the top? Post your views below.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter