Magistrates are being advised by the courts service to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with those convicted of offences committed in the context of last week's riots.
The advice, given in open court by justices' clerks, will result in cases that would usually be disposed of in magistrates courts being referred to the crown court for more severe punishment.
It may explain why some of those convicted have received punitive sentences for offences that might normally attract a far shorter term.
In Manchester, a mother of two, Ursula Nevin, was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city centre store. In Brixton, south London, a 23-year-old student was jailed for six months for stealing £3.50 worth of water bottles from a supermarket...read more