Important news about the Crown Court Sentencing Survey

Following a review, the Sentencing Council has decided to stop gathering data using the Crown Court Sentencing Survey.

Data collection will cease on 31 March 2015.

In the future, we will conduct bespoke data collection in both the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts for specific guidelines.  Courts will be approached to take part in these exercises on a case by case basis. This will give us the time and resources to target our data collection and analysis in a more focussed way as well as to extend our analysis of sentencing practice into the magistrates’ courts.  It will also relieve the not inconsiderable administrative burden on judges and court managers.

The value of the data already collected has been enormous. The survey has helped us monitor how sentencing guidelines are used, for example looking at the data on assault helped us understand that the prevalence of certain harm and culpability factors has pushed up sentences for some offences.  This will help to inform our forthcoming review of the assault guideline. The survey has helped us in the production of new sentencing guidelines, for example using the robbery data to identify where an offence took place provided us with valuable evidence when drafting the new guideline which separates the offences by location – street , dwelling and commercial robbery.  The wealth of data collected over the last four and a half years will continue to be used for further research and analysis even after we stop gathering new data in this way.

We would not have been able to produce guidelines with such a solid foundation of evidence, guidelines which have largely been well-received and are being implemented successfully in all courts, without the goodwill and co-operation of the judiciary and staff of the Crown Court. We are very grateful for the high level of returns, ensuring the quality of the data, and recognise the considerable efforts of both judiciary and court staff in achieving this.