Publication types:
Research report

Publication topics:
General guideline and expanded explanations

Published on:

6 March 2024

In the Sentencing Council’s strategic objectives for 2021-2026  we made a commitment to “explore how the Council’s expanded explanations are being interpreted and applied by sentencers in practice”. This qualitative research report reviews how selected aggravating and mitigating factors, and their accompanying expanded explanations, were identified and interpreted by the judges and magistrates who took part. The selection of the factors explored in this research was informed by recommendations from previous research on Equality and diversity in the work of the Sentencing Council.

This research consisted of two stages. The first used in-depth interviews and hypothetical sentencing scenarios with 20 judges and 20 magistrates to explore existing factors and their accompanying expanded explanations. The second used six focus groups (three with judges and three with magistrates) to gather perspectives on three new proposed mitigating factors.

Based on the findings of this research, amendments have been proposed for a small number of factors and/or their accompanying expanded explanations. These proposed changes were consulted on as part of the Sentencing Council’s third annual consultation on miscellaneous amendments to guidelines.