There are growing calls for a rethink of the way in which people are sentenced for their participation in the recent London riots. In particular, the perceived politicisation of the judicial system is ringing alarm bells with those who believe that politicians should not interfere with the way that judges decide sentences.
Earlier this week, two men were sentenced to four years in jail each for posting comments on Facebook that encouraged the riots, even though the prosecution accepted that there was no evidence that the comments actually influenced anything. Last week, Ursula Nevin was jailed for accepting a pair of shorts that had been acquired during the riots.
The problem here is not only that these sentences seem extremely stiff given the nature of the crimes. It’s also that political interference in the judicial system can’t be tolerated. We have to have confidence that our system is fair. For David Cameron or any politician to seek to influence sentencing in this way is not only wrong, it’s dangerous and – I would argue – undemocratic.