Using this website

This statement applies to content published on, which is run by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales. We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website. That means you should be able, for example, to:

  • zoom in up to 300% without the text spilling off the screen
  • navigate most of the website using just a keyboard
  • navigate most of the website using speech recognition software
  • listen to most of the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)

We have also made the website text as easy as possible to understand.

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

How accessible is this website?

From 1 December 2022 all documents on this website will be published in Open Document format.

Some of the older documents on this website are not fully accessible. For example:

  • pdf documents published before 23 September 2018 may not be fully accessible to screen-reader software, and
  • a small number of the pdfs published after 23 September 2018 may not be fully accessible.

We aim to use language in our guidelines and published documents that is easy to understand for readers without a legal background but there are some instances where this is not possible.

Feedback and contact information

If you need the information on this website in a different format, please:

We will consider your request and get back to you in 20 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We are always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we are not meeting accessibility requirements, contact:, setting out the issues you are experiencing and links to the page(s) affected.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you are not happy with how we respond to a complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

The Sentencing Council is committed to making its website accessible in accordance with the accessibility regulations.

Compliance status

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 AA standard, due to the exemptions listed below.

Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

The accessibility regulations 2018 do not require us to make pdfs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 accessible if they are not essential to providing our services. For example, we will not make pdfs of archived sentencing guidelines accessible.

Embedded videos hosted on YouTube and other media players include non-accessible elements that are native to the video platform. For example, this means buttons to play videos are not descriptive enough for screen reader users as the context of the video is not clear. This fails WCAG 2.4.6 AA (Headings and Labels).

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

There are a number of areas of the site that are not compliant with the accessibility regulations. We expect to bring all these areas into compliance during 2023.

  • WCAG 2.4.7 Focus visible: there are a number of elements within the site where this no visible keyboard focus. 
  • WCAG 2.1.1 Keyboard: part or all of the page cannot be accessed via keyboard. 
  • WCAG 1.4.3 Contrast (minimum): there are a number of areas of the site where poor colour contrast makes reading difficult. 
  • WCAG 2.4.4 Link purpose (in context) and WCAG 4.1.2 Name, role value: there are nine access key links on the site that are missing accessible text.

Disproportionate burden

Most older pdf documents are not fully accessible to screen-reader software. Our website contains a large number of pdfs created in previous years, for example sentencing guidelines, consultation documents, annual reports and business plans.

We do not intend to recreate these documents in accessible versions as this would be a disproportionate burden. As set out above the accessibility regulations do not require us to fix pdfs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they are not essential to providing our services.

The decision not to update all pdfs takes into account the fact that there are a great number of documents on this website, each of which would require a number of hours’ work to be recreated in a fully accessible version.

The Council has made all sentencing guidelines available in an accessible digital format since 8 November 2018. We continue to provide access via the archive to pdf versions of sentencing guidelines that were published in print or pdf prior to this date for research purposes only; they are no longer valid for use in sentencing.

Interest in other documents such as past consultation papers and annual reports is low. Few people access them, and requests for accessible versions are extremely rare.

We consider that the costs of converting guidelines that are no longer in use for sentencing or other documents where there is little evidence of demand would be a poor use of limited staff time and would represent a disproportionate burden on the organisation in terms of cost. We will always assist with requests for our publications to be provided in different formats on a case-by-case basis.

What we are doing to improve accessibility

We are reviewing how we present our consultations, including how we make them available via online consultation platforms, to improve accessibility.

We are reviewing the use of colour across all outputs of the Sentencing Council to improve readability.

We will also be looking at ways in which we can make the digital tools we provide for sentencers more accessible.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 31 May 2022 and revised on 22 November 2022. 

This website was last tested in June 2021. The test was carried out by the Central Digital and Data Office and an external agency.

Testing was conducted using a mixture of simple checks and automated tests to find the most common barriers to users with accessibility needs. Manual checks included using each page without a mouse, viewing the page at different zoom settings and simulating viewing the page on a small screen.

Automated tests were completed using the latest version of axe: