This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
Constituents sometimes contact their Member of Parliament when they think a sentence imposed by the courts is too low
The Attorney General’s Office can review very low sentences given by the Crown Court in England and Wales, if asked to do so. The Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme enables these requests, allowing members of the public to ask the Attorney General to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal for being too low.
There is information about the process and procedure on the Gov.uk page, Ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed.
Further information and analysis is available in the Commons Library briefing, Review of unduly lenient sentences.
Who may make the request?
It is important to understand that any member of the public may ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed. There is no requirement to ask via a Member of Parliament.
The person who asks does not have to be involved in the case, though they may be, for example, a victim or relative of a victim.
Only one person needs to ask for the review.
Are all offences included?
No. Only certain kinds of offences may be reviewed.
- offences that are triable on indictment (i.e. in the Crown Court) such as murder, rape and robbery; and
- some offences that are triable either way (i.e. in either the Crown Court or magistrates’ court) that are specified in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Reviews of Sentencing) Order 2006/1116, Schedule 1, made by the Secretary of State under section 35 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Further information is available in the Library briefing, Review of unduly lenient sentences.
What is the timescale?
The request must be submitted within 28 days of the sentencing, preferably as soon as possible. The 28 days is the time within which the Attorney General is able to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal. If the request is received after 28 days of the sentencing, the sentence cannot be reviewed.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.