1 Imprisonment or confinement. The current policy behind the use of custody was established in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and has been consolidated by the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003. There is a twin-track approach, under which long custodial sentences will be levied on very serious crimes, particularly those of violence, but custody may be replaced with community sentences for the less serious ones. The Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 establishes a framework for custodial sentencing that reflects this proportionality principle and includes a policy of reducing prison for non-serious offences. To this end, section 79 of the Act introduces a “custody threshold” that has to be surmounted before any court can impose a custodial sentence, and section 80 imposes limits on the length of any custodial sentence given.
2 (in family law) Formerly, the bundle of rights and responsibilities that parents (and sometimes others) had in relation to a child. “Custody”, which featured in various statutes, has now been replaced by the concept of parental responsibility introduced by the Children Act 1989.