The announcement by the Sentencing Council on 24 January 2012 of a reduction of sentences for those who are drug mules, and not organisers, is long overdue but greatly to be welcomed. The new guideline applies to all offenders aged 18 and over who are sentenced on or after 27 February 2012 regardless of the date of the offence. But it is otherwise silent about those already sentenced as the Sentencing Council has no remit as to past offences. Unless the guideline is clarified in this respect there will be serious anomalies, as there will be a two tier structure of those sentenced before 27 February and those sentenced on or after that date .There will be a situation where there would be some drug mules sentenced before 27 February who would be serving substantially longer sentences than drug mules sentenced on or after that date- even though, under the criteria set out in the new guideline, the former?s offending could be regarded as being less.
A small implosion in sentence appeals to the Court of Appeal would be inconvenient but would be preferable to the obvious injustice otherwise caused. The alternative suggested by the Prison Reform Trust of the Government reviewing all such cases would be fairer as it would ensure that the cases of those overseas drug mules no longer represented would be picked up. In either event it should reduce the prison population by some hundreds of prisoners ,a saving which could be recycled back to other hard pressed areas of the criminal Justice system.