06 May COVID19: Government backs PCC‘s call for tougher sentences for Covid criminals
Last month I wrote to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland calling for the government to make sure that anyone caught exploiting people during the coronavirus crisis should and will expect the full force of the law and that means they should expect an appropriate punishment.
The letter set out my views on how we must safeguard the elderly and most vulnerable and it called for sentencing guidelines to reflect the current climate.
In reply, the minister responsible for sentencing policy, Chris Philip MP, said the Government took the issue very seriously and that courts had the flexibility to make sentencing fit the crime.
“I welcome your contribution to this issue and have carefully considered the points you raise.
“When deciding what sentences to impose, courts must consider the circumstances of the case, including the culpability of the offender, the harm they cause or intended to cause and any aggravating or mitigating factors”.
I welcome the government’s response (I think it could have been stronger) overall I am pleased to hear that the Government is taking the issue of coronavirus-related fraud seriously.
Here in Gloucestershire, I have asked the Chief Constable to prioritise any reports of such crimes; expedite relevant investigations and take all steps possible to prevent further offences.
Whilst I have every confidence in the independence of the judiciary, I also believe that the public would fully support and expect a severe sentence, likely to include a substantial period of custody, for anyone who commits fraud or deception that in any way takes advantage of the current pandemic.