Criminal sentencing is too soft, say two-thirds of Britons

Isabelle KirkData Journalist
March 30, 2022, 8:20 AM GMT+0

A new YouGov survey reveals Britons think convicted criminals should be punished more harshly by the courts – with support for harsher punishments highest among Conservative voters and older Britons.

Our latest data shows that two thirds of Britons (65%) think that the sentences that courts hand down to people who have been convicted of crimes are not harsh enough. Just 12% think the courts get the balance right, while 2% say sentences are too harsh and 21% are unsure.

The overwhelming majority of Conservative voters (83%) say sentencing for convicted criminals is not harsh enough, and it is also the most popular choice for Labour voters, at 51%. This difference is mostly explained by a significantly higher percentage of Labour voters answering ‘don’t know’ (30%) compared to Conservative voters (just 8%).

Britons over 65 are also much more likely to be say sentencing is not harsh enough (77%) compared to those aged 18-24 (43%). Again, however, this does not translate into younger Britons saying that sentences are too harsh or that the balance is right – more than a third (37%) of 18 to 24-year-olds are unsure about the harshness of sentencing for convicted criminals, compared to just 12% of those aged over 65.

Women are somewhat more likely than men to think that criminals are not punished harshly enough by the courts, by 69% to 61%.

See full results here