A Stranger Danger

Written by admin
December 21st, 2018

Crown Courts will regularly have to consider whether a client is “dangerous”. In essence, the issue is whether they are somebody who has committed an offence of a particular gravity, either now or in the past, or an offence that has attracted a particular sort of sentence. Faced with their current charge, the court has to consider whether they impose a real threat of particularly unpleasant sorts of harm to individuals in the future.

In general, when found dangerous, defendants have to serve two thirds, rather than half of the sentence set down by the court and they can only be released with the consent of the Parole Board. Many people also face an extended period of licence supervision to ensure that they are closely monitored by the National Offender Management Service.

It ought to be remembered, however, that there are certain offenders who can be found to be “dangerous” but who can still be released at the halfway period without the involvement of the Parole Board, and who needn’t be subject to the extended licence provisions. The finding of “dangerousness” is entered on the defendant’s record, but no other step is taken. This flags up their position to a subsequent sentencing court, dealing with either a new offence or a breach, but ensures their return to the community at the earliest and most appropriate time.

As times goes by, it seems apparent that fewer and fewer sentencing tribunals are aware of this power, or have it at the forefront of their minds when passing sentence. This may be something that many defence advocates needed to consider bringing to attention of a court that may be passing a very significant sentence on a client who deserves better.

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