MPs have warned judges against sending men convicted of domestic violence on unproven anger management courses and therapeutic programmes instead of jailing them.
The Commons home affairs select committee also rejects recommendations that previous "good character" should be taken into account by the courts when sentencing isolated cases of domestic violence, saying that it is difficult to prove such cases are one-off incidents. Their criticism centres on the draft guidelines for all judges and magistrates drawn up by the Sentencing Guidelines Council [SGC], chaired by Lord Phillips, the lord chief justice, which say offenders should be sent on domestic violence programmes instead of prison if they show remorse.
John Denham, the committee chairman, said such "inappropriate sentencing" would not be suggested in other kinds of violent crime and should be dropped. The intervention comes amid the row over "unduly lenient" sentences passed by the courts and a warning by Lord Phillips this week that misreporting by some sections of the media of the SGC's guidelines were fuelling the controversy over sentencing.
The MPs' report published today on the SGC's draft guidelines on sentencing in domestic violence cases say they support the recommendation that domestic violence is a serious offence and should be treated as any other violent offence by the courts. Domestic violence accounts for a quarter of all violent crime, with one woman in four being a victim.