Criminal justice

Sentencing Council consultation on expanded explanations in sentencing guidelines - Law Society response

The Proposals

The Sentencing Council, which is tasked with producing sentencing guidelines for all types of criminal offences, has proposed to embed additional information into the offence specific sentencing guidelines applicable to adults to make it easier for users to access relevant information. This will provide sentencers and other court users with useful information relating to commonly used factors in guidelines and also improve transparency for victims, defendants and the wider public.

At the same time the Council is proposing changes to wording in some guidelines to improve consistency and clarity across guidelines. It is consulting about both the concept of providing the additional information and the content of that information.

Our view

The Law Society supports the work of the Sentencing Council in developing a comprehensive set of definitive sentencing guidelines, both offence-specific and generic. We support the proposal to embed additional information into offence specific sentencing guidelines and agree that this will make it easier for sentencers and practitioners alike to access the relevant information.

We recommend that the section on fines should also refer to confiscation orders and powers to commit under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. We recommend that the reference to suspended sentences in the section on community orders should stress that a suspended sentence may only be passed where the custody threshold is met.

What this means for solicitors

The proposals will assist solicitors who make sentencing submissions to the criminal courts by providing additional clarity about the definitions in the sentencing guidelines.

Next steps

The Sentencing Council will consider the responses received and publish the expanded definitions.

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