Publication types:
Guideline assessment

Publication topics:

Published on:

22 March 2023

This report sets out the findings from a review of trend analysis of the impact of the Imposition guideline in clarifying the principles relating to the imposition of community and custodial sentences. This work has been carried out to help us meet our statutory duty to monitor the operation and effect of sentencing guidelines and consider what conclusions can be drawn.

The Imposition guideline was published in February 2017 and aimed to set out the general principles around the imposition of community orders and custodial sentences and to clarify the factors that may make it appropriate to suspend a custodial sentence and impose a suspended sentence order.

A trend analysis of sentencing outcomes between 2011 and 2019 found that the guideline did not seem to immediately have an impact on sentencing outcomes in February 2017. However, subsequent correspondence issued in April 2018 by the then Chairman of the Sentencing Council seemed to be successful in directing sentencers’ attention to the Imposition guideline and clarifying the principles around the imposition of suspended sentences in particular. This was demonstrated by the increase in the proportion of community orders and associated decrease in the proportion of suspended sentence orders from around April 2018.

The Council is currently reviewing the Imposition guideline, including considering the results of this assessment, and we expect to consult on an updated version in autumn 2023.