MPs and justice campaigners say some of the sentences given to those involved in the riots in England are too harsh.On Tuesday two men were jailed for four years for using Facebook to incite riots and another was given 18 months for having a stolen TV in his car.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said sentences "should be about restorative justice" not retribution.
But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said tougher sentences would show there were consequences to disorder.
More than 2,770 people have been arrested in connection with last week's riots in a number of English cities.
By Tuesday afternoon, 1,277 suspects had appeared in court and 64% had been remanded in custody. In 2010 the remand rate at magistrates for serious offences was 10%.
The courts and tribunals service says legal advisers in court have been advising magistrates to "consider whether their powers of punishment are sufficient in dealing with some cases arising from the recent disorder". Magistrates are able to refer cases to crown courts which have tougher sentencing powers.
'Lack of proportionality'
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John Cooper QCWhat we can't do, in my view, in situations like this, is suddenly throw the rule book away simply because there's a groundswell of opinion”
Mr Brake told the BBC's Newsnight that some of those convicted had received sentences which would have been different if they had committed the same crime the day before the riots.He said it should be about restorative justice rather than retribution.
The former chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Paul Mendelle QC, told BBC 5 live: "If they go to prison at all or too long they lose jobs and may cause further social disruption and you may find the ultimate cost to the community is greater than the original crime for which they were punished.
"When people get caught up and act out of character, in a similar way, there is a danger that the courts themselves may get caught up in a different kind of collective hysteria - I'm not suggesting violence or anything like that - but in purporting to reflect the public mood actually go over the top and hand out sentences which are too long and too harsh."
But Mr Pickles told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We need to understand that people for a while thought that this was a crime without consequence - we cannot have people being frightened in their beds, frightened in their own homes for their public safety.
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- Anderson Fernandes, 22, was warned by a judge at Manchester Magistrates' Court that he may face jail after he admitted stealing two scoops of ice cream. He will be sentenced next week.
- Nicolas Robinson, 23, of Borough, south-east London, was jailed for six months for stealing a £3.50 case of water from Lidl supermarket
- Mother-of-two Ursula Nevin, from Manchester, was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city centre store.
"That is why these kind of exemplary sentences are necessary. I think people would be rightly alarmed if that incitement to riot got off with just a slap on the wrist."Cheshire men Jordan Blackshaw, 21, of Marston, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Warrington, were jailed for four years each after admitting using Facebook to incite disorder, although none actually resulted.
The Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards, said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent to others.
Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Police Phil Thompson said: "If we cast our minds back just a few days to last week and recall the way in which technology was used to spread incitement and bring people together to commit acts of criminality, it is easy to understand the four-year sentences that were handed down in court today."
The Crown Prosecution Service said the offences committed carried maximum sentences of 10 years, but the four-year sentences were the lengthiest related to rioting so far.
Labour MP Paul Flynn wrote on his blog that the government was "throwing away sentencing rules".
"How can this make sense? How does it compare with other crimes? What will it do to prison numbers? This is not government. It's a series of wild panic measures seeking to claw back popularity."
Conservative MP for Stourbridge Margot James said she thought the sentence was reasonable.
"I think the young men involved were inciting a riot, trying to organise the sort of mayhem that we saw on the streets eight nights ago in Salford, which would have put lives at risk and at the very least they distracted the police from trying to deal with that crisis and put a lot of fear into people."
Rule book Leading criminal barrister John Cooper QC said he believed the sentences were "over the top" and were likely to be overturned by the Court of Appeal.
"What we need to remember here is that there's a protocol for sentencing, and there are rules and procedures in sentencing which make them effective and make them fair.
"What we can't do, in my view, in situations like this, is suddenly throw the rule book away simply because there's a groundswell of opinion."
In another case, three men were jailed for up to two years in relation to the disorder in Manchester and Salford on 9 August. David Beswick, 31, Stephen Carter, 26, both from Salford, and Michael Gillespie-Doyle, 18, from Tameside, all pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.
Sitting at Manchester Crown Court, sentencing Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said: "I have no doubt at all that the principal purpose is that the courts should show that outbursts of criminal behaviour like this will be and must be met with sentences longer than they would be if the offences had been committed in isolation.
"For those reasons I consider that the sentencing guidelines for specific offences are of much less weight in the context of the current case, and can properly be departed from."
Beswick was sentenced to 18 months in prison for handling stolen goods. His friend Tony Whitaker said the punishment was disproportionate, given that he had pleaded guilty straight away.