The Telegraph reports that magistrates have been advised to ignore the standard sentencing guidelines and impose harsher penalties for offences committed during the riots.
Courts are being advised that the scale of last week’s civil disobedience means that offences committed during the riots should be dealt with more harshly.
I wonder how long it will be before somebody uses Human Rights legislation to hit back at this. After all, somebody who committed an identical offence the previous week would have got a lighter penalty.
What’s more, the advice is retrospective. This applies to crimes that have already been committed.
Here is Article 7 Section 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights:
(1) No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed.
So the new sentencing guidelines are a clear infringement of the Convention. And the Convention has been incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act, which David Cameron’s government has refused to repeal.
It may well make Mr Cameron “sick to the stomach”, just like it did when he was ordered to give prisoners the vote. But expect his government shortly to be in the dock once again.