Actually, re post below… very few people seem to be being charged with the offence of rioting or public order offences. So this isn’t about a Government directive on sentencing for a particular offence, it’s about the context in which the offence happened… and as we saw with the sentencing of the woman for receiving a pair of stolen shorts, the offender doesn’t actually have to have taken part in the rioting/ looting herself for her to be caught by this blanket requirement. Here’s an interesting blogpost which explains in part the rationale for harsher sentencing in such circumstances.
It would be interesting to have a breakdown of what offences people are being charged with. I know there was a suggestion last week that the police/ CPS were pushing minor charges of criminal damage rather than public order offences because they were easier to prove. Normally this would mean a lesser sentence, so could be seen as letting the offenders off… but if criminal damage in the context of the rioting now carries an automatic sentence of imprisonment (rather than the usual, which would be a fine or conditional discharge for a first time offender, maybe community service if a lot of damage was caused) than they don’t need to worry about pushing the more serious charges. Of course burglary – which is what looting a shop is – more often than not carries a custodial sentence anyway, but I’m not sure whether people like the guy who received 6 months for looting £3.50 worth of water from Lidl was charged with burglary, or with a lesser theft charge.