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Offence of Sending Letters etc. with Intent to Cause Distress or Anxiety

Part of Orders of the Day — Malicious Communications Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:38 am on 8th July 1988.

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Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking 9:38 am, 8th July 1988

The hon. Gentleman does not live in the kind of world that I live in. I am not talking about stockbrokers or the well off. It is stupid and wrong to write a poison pen letter and to be caught and fined. However, the guilty person might be a pensioner or be receiving income support. He might be paying back other debts, such as bills for gas and electricity. Such people find it difficult to pay fines, with the best will in the world, and they end up in prison.

All hon. Members acknowledge that our prisons are overcrowded. One has only to look at Holloway, for example, where many women are on remand, often for petty offences such as shop-lifting and non-payment of fines.