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General guideline and expanded explanations

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28 February 2019

The Sentencing Council today launched a consultation on plans to provide expanded explanations in offence specific guidelines in England and Wales. The expanded explanations will embed additional information in digital guidelines and are designed to reflect and encourage current best practice rather than to alter sentencing practice.

The consultation runs from 28 February to 23 May 2019.

The new explanations will provide judges, magistrates and other court users with useful information relating to commonly used factors in guidelines and improve transparency for victims, defendants and the wider public.

The proposals apply to aggravating and mitigating factors in all offence specific Sentencing Council guidelines for sentencing adults or organisations.  We are consulting about both the concept of providing the additional information and the content of that information.

Key features include expanded explanations for:

  • Commission of offence while under the influence of alcohol
  • Vulnerability of victims
  • Age and/or lack of maturity
  • Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives

The information will be of value to a number of people:

  • Judges and magistrates will find it easier to access relevant information on factors in guidelines
  • Defence and prosecution lawyers will be able to refer to the information in submissions to the court
  • Defence representatives will be able to use the information to explain to defendants how the sentencing process works
  • Victims and other interested parties will be able to see how different factors are applied by courts

Overall, the explanations will help to ensure that relevant considerations are taken into account in sentencing and that the process is transparent.