On 3 March 2023, the Court of Appeal handed down a judgment in the case of Arie Ali. The case proved to be of some interest due to this remark made by Lord Justice Edis:
‘On 24 February 2023, the Deputy Prime Minister wrote to the Lord Chief Justice saying:-
“You will appreciate that operating very close to prison capacity will have consequences for the conditions in which prisoners are held. More of them will be in crowded conditions while in custody, have reduced access to rehabilitative programmes, as well as being further away from home (affecting the ability for family visits). Prisoners held in police cells under Operation Safeguard will not have access to the full range of services normally offered in custody, including rehabilitative programmes.”
We have concluded that there were strong arguments for suspending the sentence in this exceptional case, for the reasons we have given. Any doubt we may have had on that issue is resolved by this additional factor which we do take into account in dealing with this appeal. This factor will principally apply to shorter sentences because a significant proportion of such sentences is likely to be served during the time when the prison population is very high. It will only apply to sentences passed during this time. We have identified above the starting point for the relevance of this consideration for sentencing, which we take to be the implementation of Operation Safeguard 14 days after 6 February 2023. Sentencing courts will now have an awareness of the impact of the current prison population levels from the material quoted in this judgment and can properly rely on that. It will be a matter for government to communicate to the courts when prison conditions have returned to a more normal state.’
So, has it made a difference?
The answer to this is undoubtedly yes, but only in some cases. We have been studying recent Court of Appeal cases, and some trends have emerged.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819