Public challenges ensure sentences of record 141 criminals increased
A record 141 criminals had their sentences increased following complaints the punishments were too soft last year.
Victims and members of the public can query penalties that are handed down by courts for certain serious offences.
New figures published by the Attorney General's Office show it received 837 requests for a review under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme in 2016 - a 17% rise on the previous year.
The Attorney and Solicitor General referred 190 cases to the Court of Appeal to be looked at again, compared to 135 in 2015.
Sex offences made up the highest number of the 141 cases where sentences were increased, with 41, followed by grievous bodily harm with intent (19), and robbery (16).
Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said: "The Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme allows victims of crime, their families and the public to challenge sentences that they believe are too low, and last year we saw a record number of sentences increased.
"A sentencing exercise is not an exact science and in the vast majority of cases, judges get it right.
"The scheme is available to ensure that the Solicitor General and I can independently review those cases where there may have been an error in the sentencing decision."
Only one person needs to ask for a sentence to be reviewed under the initiative, and anyone can make a request.
From next month the scheme will be widened to include an additional 19 terror-related offences including supporting banned organisations and failing to disclose information about an attack.