Fury as judges are handed a soft sentence checklist: 'Bad education, drug addiction and growing up...

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The Sentencing Council has for the first time spelt out 'mitigating' factors relating to disadvantage that courts should consider before passing sentence.

Telling judges to consider handing more lenient sentences to offenders from 'deprived' or 'difficult backgrounds' risks handing them excuses for committing crimes, MPs have said.

Tory MP Philip Davies also hit out against the move, writing in a consultation document: 'I do not agree that having a difficult or deprived background makes you less culpable for committing an offence – such as robbery with all the violence that entails and the fear caused to the victim. 'I object very strongly to this whole section as a mitigating factor for any offence, never mind all offences.'

'Often it is actually those who come from the poorest communities who will be the victims of the crimes in these cases. Low educational attainment and poverty are not excuses to commit crimes.' This excludes being voluntarily drunk at the time of an offence, which is an 'aggravating factor' in sentencing.

'Moreover, many in society, including no doubt judges and MPs, will have encountered young people from modest educational or financial backgrounds who have shown scrupulous integrity and a commitment to leading a law-abiding life.'

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