To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the potential benefits of commencing section 151 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to allow courts to issue community orders rather than fines for minor offences by repeat offenders; and if he will make a statement.
There are no current plans to commence Section 151 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which allows courts, in certain circumstances, to use community orders for repeat offenders who would normally receive fines.
Section 143(2) of that Act requires courts to treat previous convictions as an aggravating factor when sentencing. With reference to shop theft offences, the Sentencing Council’s guideline on theft offences came into force in 2016. This guideline allows for the imposition of community sentences for shop theft in a wide range of circumstances. In cases involving significant persistent offending, the community and custodial thresholds may be crossed even though the offence otherwise warrants a lesser sentence.