Liverpool event increases sentencing understanding

The Sentencing Council’s first public event to increase understanding about sentencing was held last night in Liverpool, with more than 80 people from Merseyside in attendance.

It took place alongside a week of coverage about sentencing in the Liverpool Echo, with the paper working with the Sentencing Council to highlight the kinds of burglars that come before the courts and how judges and magistrates go about sentencing them.

The event was hosted by BBC Merseyside presenter Roger Phillips, with local members of the judiciary – Judge Henry Globe, Judge David Fletcher and magistrate Eunice Wise – explaining how the sentencing process works and asking for views on how burglars should be sentenced as part of the Sentencing Council’s public consultation on its proposed guidelines for judges on burglary offences.

It was also an opportunity for members of the public to pass sentence in some fictional scenarios of some of the types of burglary that come before the courts. Three burglary sentencing scenarios were presented, with attendees then asked to choose which sentence from four options they would give the burglar in each case to see how their verdicts compared with those of a real judge. The results showed that in two of the three scenarios, the most popular option was the same as the sentence a judge or magistrate would have passed. Interestingly in  the third scenario, the option chosen by the highest number of people was a more lenient sentence than a judge would pass.

Attendees were also asked more generally about the effect the event had on their understanding of sentencing. 83 per cent felt that their understanding of the sentencing process had increased as a result of coming to the event, and 88 per cent felt more informed about the sentences given to people convicted of burglary offences.