James Sunderland questions the Lord Chancellor about suspended sentences of under 12 months with conditions and whether the community service debt can be carried out in the very communities in which they offend.
May I thank the Lord Chancellor for his pragmatic statement? I also thank the prisons Minister for his engagement over the weekend. I really welcome progress with IPP sentencing, on which I have a clear constituency interest, but what I really want to ask about is custodial sentences of less than 12 months being suspended. Is there a presumption that those needing to pay a debt to the community will do so in the very communities in which they offend?
What an excellent point to end on. It is critical that where a community is offended against, the offenders make that community whole—in other words, that they do the work, whether it is scrubbing graffiti, clearing wasteland or planting trees, in the community to try to atone for their guilt and to repair some of the damage they have done. I am delighted that, increasingly, police and crime commissioners are working together with local probation services to identify the stuff that needs doing in their community so that when defendants go straight, they also look after the community that they have wronged so badly in the first place.