The guidelines say: "Many offenders convicted of acquisitive crimes are motivated by an addiction, often to drugs or gambling. This does not mitigate the seriousness of the offence but an offender\’s dependency may properly influence the type of sentence."
They suggest that rather than a prison term, "it may sometimes be appropriate to impose a drug rehabilitation requirement or an alcohol treatment requirement as part of a community order or a suspended sentence order in an attempt to break the cycle of addiction and offending, even if an immediate custodial sentence would otherwise be warranted".
Seems sensible enough, if the aim is to stop a recurrence of the theft then dealing with the addiction seems logical enough.
Patrick Mercer, a Tory member of the Commons home affairs committee, said: "Rehabilitation can go on in prison. I don\’t see why these are mitigating factors."
This is also true, it can…..but does it?
The little I\’ve heard on the subject implies that addictions get worse inside, not better, specifically, that heroin is easier to get and to use inside than cannabis is. So prison really isn\’t the place where rehabilitation does in fact happen.
Anyway, these are only changes to the sentencing guidelines: judges and magistrates still get to deal with each individual case on its own merits, as of course they should.