News story

Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme ensuring justice for victims of crime and their families

More than 100 offenders had their prison sentences lengthened following referrals by the Attorney and Solicitor General to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme during 2015.


New statistics released today have shown that the Attorney General’s office (AGO) received 713 requests for sentences to be reviewed under the ULS scheme in 2015. Of those, 136 were referred by the AGO to the Court of Appeal as potentially unduly lenient, with the Court agreeing to increase the original sentence for 102 offenders.

Of the 102 offenders who had their sentences increased, these related to crimes in the following categories:

  • Sexual offences (38)
  • Robbery (18)
  • Firearms offences (14)
  • Murder or manslaughter (5)
  • Grievous bodily harm (6)
  • Burglary (5)
  • Drug offences (4)
  • Causing death by dangerous driving (2)
  • Arson (1)
  • Other offences (9)

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP said:

“While in the vast majority of cases sentencing judges get it right, the ULS scheme is essential in ensuring victims, family members of victims and the general public are able to request that sentences they think are unduly lenient can be reviewed and, where necessary, increased.”

102 cases resulting in sentence increases is a small proportion of the 80,000 Crown Court cases heard each year, but the ULS scheme is there to allow adjustment of those sentences where an increase is warranted. Anyone can ask the AGO to look at sentences passed in a Crown Court in England and Wales for named offences if they think it’s too low.

The number of sentences considered by the Attorney General’s Office has increased by over 108% since 2010: from 342 sentences to 713 in 2015. During the same period, referrals by the Attorney General’s Office to the Court of Appeal which resulted in sentence increases only rose from 90 to 102, showing that the judiciary generally get it right.

Further information:

Offences covered by the scheme include the most serious cases considered by Crown Courts in England and Wales: including murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious sexual offences. Anyone can ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed and you can also follow the progress of referrals made to the Attorney General’s Office.

These statistics supersede a version published earlier.

Published 24 August 2016