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14 January 2016

The Sentencing Council has launched its consultation on a new guideline for the imposition of community and custodial sentences – that is, the process for deciding when these types of sentence should be imposed.

Existing guidance issued by the Council’s predecessor body entitled New Sentences – Criminal Justice Act 2003 is now out of date due to legislative changes since it was introduced in 2004. As a result, the Sentencing Council considers that it would be highly beneficial for sentencers to have up to date guidelines for the imposition of community and custodial sentences.

The proposed guideline aims to promote consistency of factors considered when imposing these sentences in courts in England and Wales. Introduction of the guideline will mean all courts have the same, up to date guidance for these sentences.

Development of the new guideline has also been prompted by work the Council is undertaking to produce a guideline on breach of orders. This has revealed some evidence of inconsistency in the imposition of suspended sentences, which the Council is keen to address before a guideline for breach of these orders is developed.

The draft guideline is subject to a consultation, which runs for six weeks from 14 January 2016 to 25 February 2016. This is a shorter period than is usual for Sentencing Council consultations and is because the consultation relates to a concise, technical guideline, intended to update and replace existing guidance and in order to deliver improvements promptly.