Sentencing Council – The background

Sentencing Council – The background


Who The Sentencing Council is responsible for holding consultations and producing draft and definitive guidelines on matters relating to sentencing in the criminal courts of England and Wales. It was established in April 2010, upon which it replaced its predecessor, the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

Created by whom? The Council is a statutory body (created by Parliament), created by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Under the Act it has responsibilities to produce draft guidelines and invite responses from the legal profession and the public.

Members Members are selected by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. Schedule 15 of the 2009 Act requires that there are eight judicial members and six non-judicial members.

Currently, the Lord Chief Justice is the president of the Council, with Lord Justice Leveson its Chair. Other notable judicial members include Hughes LJ (VP of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal) and Kier Starmer QC, the Director for Public Prosecutions.

What they say about themselves The Sentencing Council for England and Wales promotes greater consistency in sentencing, whilst maintaining the independence of the judiciary. The Council produces guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and aims to increase public understanding of sentencing. (Official website)

The guidelines The Council’s guidelines can be split broadly in two; first are offence guidelines such as assault (ranging from common assault to section 18 wounding), burglary, and drugs (ranging from possession to importation and supply). The second are guidelines on sentencing principles; its recent TICs, Totality and Allocation guideline deals with, among other things, the principle of offenders sentenced for multiple offences and offenders who ask for offences to be taken into consideration.

Approach The statute requires the Council to draft its guidelines using categories and ranges, referring to factors in order to assist the user in determining the appropriate

Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)