Victim hits out at burglary proposals

AN elderly widow who was subjected to a terrifying ordeal when two men raided her home today slammed controversial proposals to stop sending burglars to jail.

AN elderly widow who was subjected to a terrifying ordeal when two men raided her home today slammed controversial proposals to stop sending burglars to jail.

Sentencing advisors have recommended that burglary and other “less serious” thieves should be handed community punishments rather than prison terms.

The Sentencing Advisory Panel, an independent body, claimed unpaid work or a curfew could be a better way of punishing such offences.

However, Phyllis Buckles, who was left traumatised after a frightening burglary at her Needham Market home, urged courts to ignore calls for leniency.

The 80-year-old admits she still feels vulnerable following the January attack, during which two men broke in, restrained her, ripped a panic alarm from her neck and made off with £1,000.

She said: “I think burglars should receive stricter punishments, not more lenient ones.

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“I am still a bit nervous after the burglary. I hear little noises and I think 'is someone there?'

“It's not very nice to be sitting at home and have someone break in and put their hand over your face.

“It has left me really shaken. I don't feel safe in my home.”

Despite a detailed police investigation, the burglars have never been brought to justice.

Nationally, burglary rates have fallen in recent years which, the Home Office claims, is thanks in part to tougher sentencing.

One initiative introduced by the government has been the 'three-for-three' scheme, where those convicted of burglary for a third time receive a jail term of at least three years.

The Sentencing Advisory Panel's idea to soften punishments has been printed in a consultation paper published as part of a wide-ranging review of sentencing.

The paper states: “A presumption in favour of a community order is most likely to be appropriate in relation to the less serious offences of theft and dishonesty, burglary and motoring offences, where there may be clear advantages in requiring an offender to serve a sentence in the community.”

The risk of an offender committing further, non-serious offences should not automatically lead to jail, the paper added.

It said that there was a school of thought which suggested that employed offenders should not be able to avoid jail on the ground that they would lose their jobs, because this would “work against those who are already disadvantaged by being unemployed”.

Do you think burglars should be spared jail? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk