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10 March 2020

The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation to determine its future direction, balancing its priorities against limited resources. The consultation, which has now been extended and will run from 10 March to 9 September 2020, is seeking views on where the Council should focus its efforts in the next 10 years. The consultation is seeking views in five key areas:

Guideline development

The Council receives many requests to develop additional guidelines and we are consulting on how we should balance priorities against resources for different guidelines. The key considerations revolve around whether the Council would offer more value developing new guidelines and revising existing ones, producing guidelines for higher volume or lower volume offences or developing overarching principles or more offence specific guidelines.

Analysis and research

Analysis and research is an integral part of guideline development. It helps the Council identify whether there is a problem with sentencing, for example whether there is concern over the impact of sentencing on particular types of offenders. Research also helps the Council set sentencing ranges and determine the likely implications of a guideline. The key considerations in the consultation are how this area of work could be improved and which areas should be prioritised.

Increasing public confidence

The Council has a duty to have regard to the need to promote public confidence in the criminal justice system. The Council has interpreted this duty as a wider obligation to take active steps to promote public confidence in sentencing and the criminal justice system. We will be asking consultees to help us consider: to what extent the Council should be responsible for promoting public confidence in sentencing and the wider criminal justice system, and which areas of activity the Council could pursue that would add most value in promoting public confidence.

Cost and effectiveness of sentencing

The Council has a duty to have regard to the cost of different sentences and their relative effectiveness in preventing reoffending. The key considerations are whether the Council has sufficiently addressed this duty, whether there are broader issues the Council should consider and whether additional research should be carried out on the effectiveness of sentencing.

How the Council works

The Council is required to consult on draft guidelines before producing the definitive ones. The Council consults routinely, especially among sentencers and those who work in criminal justice. The key considerations are how the Council can improve the process for regular respondents, whether there are organisations or people it should be reaching but is not, and if it should provide material to assist guideline users.