In the Media

Riot judges got harsh sentences 'just about right', district judge says

PUBLISHED June 16, 2012

District Judge Tan Ikram said judges got tough sentences "just about right" following the London riots, and insisted they did not face pressure from politicians to come down hard.

In a public interview hosted by the University of West London, the judge said he had to consider the risk of future offending in each case and said more senior judges had been consulted "on a regular basis" from the start.

District Judge Ikram, who works at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court, noted the sentencing happened in a very different atmosphere to the "calm of today", as many first-time offenders were caught up in the riots.

According to the Independent newspaper, the judge told an audience in Ealing, west London: "There were a large number of people being brought to court and evidence of a large number of people involved in civil disorder.

"The question each judge had to ask was: 'What is the risk of future offending?' In light of what was going on that was a very different question to one that might be asked in the calm of today.

"I can assure you, no politicians told me or any of my colleagues what to do. We applied the law."

At the time, the judge is reported to have said: "There has been unprecedented violence on the streets: burglaries, robberies, looting, criminal damage, arson.

"Let the message go out: any person who finds the proceeds of looting and chooses to keep them will face immediate ¬sentences of imprisonment."

He has now confirmed he feels judges got sentencing "just about right" and praised officials for their work.

The judge said he also supported the treatment of Jordan Blackshaw, 20, who was sentenced to four years in prison for inciting people to riot on social networking website Facebook, adding he had the "potential to reach many people".