He welcomed a new study 'Attitudes to punishment: findings from the British Crime Survey' and he announced that the Home Office was considering ways to improve the level of information about crime and the criminal justice system.
Measures to increase understanding include:
the Crime and Disorder Bill requires the senior judiciary of the Court of Appeal to produce a comprehensive set of sentencing guidelines for all the main criminal offences;
The Home Office will be providing more comprehensive background information in its News Releases to keep the media up to date on current issues.
Mr Straw said:
'We are committed to improving the information which the public receives about crime and the criminal justice system.
'Everybody has a responsibility to present a clear and accurate picture about crime, this includes politicians, judges, legal representatives and the media.
'Only when crime and the criminal justice system is presented in the correct context will the public begin to regain confidence in the justice it delivers.
'We have proposed that courts explain more clearly, when an offender is sentenced, what that sentence means in practice and for what period they could be recalled to prison.
'This will allow the sentence to be clear to the victim, offender and the wider public.
'The news media has an understandable role in highlighting vivid crimes which are a very small proportion of the total. It is vital that more information is in the public domain.
'We will be consulting with key groups including the media and those in the criminal justice system to identify the best way we can achieve this aim'.