80% of the population support the criminalisation of ‘reckless’ bank management – and the most widely supported maximum sentence is five years in jail

George Osborne has announced that “reckless misconduct” by bank managers is to carry a criminal penalty with a possible jail term, following the Libor rate-rigging scandal which shook the sector’s image. New research by YouGov reveals overwhelming support for the move, and finds the most popular maximum sentence is five years in jail.

80% of the British public support “making the ‘reckless’ management of a bank a criminal offence with a possible jail time.” In fact, more don’t know (12%) than oppose (8%), and there is near-unanimous support across all the four main political parties.

The conditions for ‘reckless misconduct’ according to the government include failings “with substantial cost to the taxpayer, lasting consequences for the financial system, or serious harm to customers."

The most popular maximum sentence for bankers convicted of such offences is “up to five years in jail” (31% support), however another 31% support an even longer sentence. 14% say one year is enough, while 8% say they only deserve six months and 10% think community service or a fine would suffice.

The criminalisation is part of a package of proposals suggested by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. Important policies that will be implemented include ending bonuses for bosses of bailed out banks and introducing more competition into the sector. However failure to adopt some of the policies, including tightening the amount of debt banks can have as a proportion of their assets, has prompted the chair of the Commission to say that "the government's response appears to fall short."

See the full poll results

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