Letter: Gross injustice

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Sir: Michael Faraway (Letters, 15 October) accuses Liberty of not comparing like with like in its analysis of variations in rates of imprisonment between magistrates' courts. Shepton Mallet, he says, is a different kind of place to South Tameside. And so it is.

However, Home Office research studies confirm 'considerable differences in sentencing' even after allowing for differences in the cases coming before local benches. And in 1990, Houghton- le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, which dealt with virtually identical numbers of burglaries and violent offences, sent one man to prison compared to 30 in South Tameside. The inescapable fact remains that the sentence you receive in magistrates' courts in England and Wales depends less on what you do than on where you live - and that is a gross injustice.

Liberty wishes to see a system of local justice that more obviously lives up to its own high ideas of equity. We make no apology for that.

Yours etc,



London, SE1