Burglars will not all be locked up

burglaryKent Police/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The courts have adopted new rules when it comes to sentencing burglars The price that criminals pay will not just be a set sentence for burglary, but will vary according to the seriousness of the crime.

So what are the new rules, and is it enough to protect your home and valuables?

Varied sentencing

The rules will apply in England and Wales, and will vary according to the effect it has on the victims of the crime. Judges will need to stick to the rules unless they can prove is it in the interests of justice to break away from them.

Under the new rules the harshest sentences will be reserved for those who are armed during the robbery. They will face a maximum sentence of 13 years (and in every single instance there will be a spell of some sort behind bars).

Those who steal from commercial premises will serve up to six years, and those burgling homes will get up to five years. How much of the maximum sentence they are given will vary. So, for example, they will get longer behind bars if they carry out the crime while the occupants are at home. However, they will not always go to prison.

Avoid prison

When these guidelines were first announced last year, Lord Justice Leveson, chairman of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, said: "We do not recommend every single burglar in every circumstance should go to jail. We advise, consistent with the law, that judges should consider harm and culpability: greater harm and greater culpability always jail, but lesser harm and lesser culpability, not necessarily."

This means that a burglar who has no previous convictions, and doesn't take anything particularly valuable may not get any jail time at all.

Is this enough?

This is unlikely to fill many homeowners with confidence. After-all, as Lord Leveson once said "The crime of burglary is not simply a crime against property, it is a crime against the person." How does it protect either our property or ourselves if a person can caught in your front room helping themselves to the TV, and then still be allowed to go free? What is stopping them popping back for the DVD player the following day?

Of course, with prisons full to bursting point, and the massive cost of keeping people in prison, it's hardly surprising that judges are loathe to award custodial sentences. There's also the argument that if it is someone's first time, and they are clearly only an amateur, maybe they deserve a second chance rather than being incarcerated somewhere they can learn to be a proper criminal.

But what do you think? Do you approve of the new guidelines, or do they leave us vulnerable? Let us know in the comments.
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