The government has set out measures to crack down on crime and give victims more power in influencing sentencing. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill pledges to reform sentences and place victims first when deciding penalties.

The Bill aims to make custodial sentences more effective, with prisoners working 40 hours a week, non-custodial sentences to be made tougher through the greater use of financial penalties, and victims to be placed at the heart of the criminal justice system with more opportunities for compensation and to influence the punishment for the offender.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomed the moves. “The Bill will improve the credibility and effectiveness of sentencing,” he said. “For non-custodial sentences to work, there must be a wider range of penalties for courts to use.”

He added that victims needed to be made the priority when came to punishing criminals. “It is right that more is done to compensate victims financially as well as give them more of a say in what punishment is appropriate.”