Public confidence in sentencing and the criminal justice system

We have published a report of research carried out to help the Council better understand public attitudes towards, and understanding of, sentencing and the criminal justice system.

Public confidence is fundamental to the operation of the criminal justice system. The Sentencing Council has a statutory duty to have regard to the need to promote public confidence in the system when developing the sentencing guidelines and monitoring their impact. To meet this obligation, the Council must have a clear and detailed picture of the public’s knowledge and understanding of, and confidence in, sentencing and sentencing guidelines, set against wider attitudes towards the whole criminal justice system.

Public Knowledge of and Confidence in the Criminal Justice System and Sentencing reports on research conducted to help the Council meet its public confidence duties. The research identifies key audiences for the Council and provides insight into the sort of messages that would be relevant and meaningful to these audiences and that might help to dispel some of the more common myths and misunderstandings about sentencing.

The research, which included an online survey of 2,000 adults representative of the population of England and Wales, shows the importance of the sentencing guidelines to people’s confidence in sentencing: 67 per cent of the public and 68 per cent of victims of crime said that the existence of sentencing guidelines improved their confidence in the fairness of sentencing at least a little.

The full report, including a summary of findings, is available on the Analysis and Research pages of the website.