A GOVERNMENT scheme that gives victims and relatives the chance to lengthen their tormentor’s court sentence must be updated to cover coercive husbands and paedophiles who repeatedly download child sex abuse images, campaigners have urged.

Under the Unduly Lenient Sentences scheme, members of the public, police officers and lawyers can apply to the Attorney General to have court sentences they deem to be too light reconsidered by government lawyers and, in some cases, taken to the Court of Appeal.

READ MORE: The Swindon criminals whose cases were flagged to government lawyers under the Unduly Lenient Sentences scheme

However, only certain criminal charges fall under the programme. Sentences for murder and rape may be reviewed, but sentences handed to paedophiles caught with child sex abuse images and video cannot.

And of 14 Swindon cases referred to the Attorney General’s office since the start of the year, none have been pursued. Half of the cases were dropped because the charges, ranging from making indecent images of children to dangerous driving, are not included in the scheme.

Among their number was the case of Valentino Fernandes, the cruel husband who denied his wife food, abused her in the street and suggested she prostitute herself. The woman was so scared of her husband that she refused to leave her room to use the toilet, so fearful was she of the man’s violence. At Swindon Crown Court in April he was jailed for two years, suspended for 24 months, after being found guilty of coercive control.

Swindon campaigner Frank Mullane, chief executive of charity Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse, has called for the scheme to change. 15-years-ago his sister Julia Pemberton and her son, William, were killed by her ex-partner.

Mr Mullane said: “The scheme has not kept up with changes in the law regarding crimes. Coercive control, the most dangerous form of domestic abuse, was recognised as a criminal offence in December 2015. It is not a crime recognised under this scheme, but serious fraud is."

“Although fraud can be hugely damaging to its victims, so can coercive control. My sister Julia Pemberton, who was murdered in 2003, suffered coercive control and predicted her murder. We know this crime can be deadly.”

An appeal against the suspended 22-month jail sentence given to paedophile Darren Brazier was also dropped, as the charges were not covered by the Unduly Lenient Sentences scheme. Brazier had been found with 1m abuse images on his computers.

Justice minister Robert Buckland, South Swindon’s MP, said he wanted to see all sexual offences – including charges of making indecent images of children – added to the list of offences covered by the scheme. As Solicitor General he took cases to the Court of Appeal: “The number of referrals keeps going up every year.”