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5 October 2022

A consultation paper on a revision to the Totality sentencing guideline.

The consultation closed on 11 January 2023.

What was this consultation about?

The Council sought views on proposed changes to the Totality guideline.

The guideline sets out the approach for sentencing an offender for more than one offence or where the offender is already serving a sentence. Used alongside the relevant offence-specific guidelines or the General guideline, it provides sentencers with a framework for reaching a sentence that is just and proportionate to the offending as a whole.

The existing Totality guideline came into effect in June 2012. The Council is proposing a series of changes in response to research conducted with sentencers in 2021.

Who did we ask to respond?

We sought views from anyone who uses sentencing guidelines in their work or who has an interest in sentencing. We would also sought views from individuals and organisations representing anyone who could be affected by the proposals, including:

  • victims and their families;
  • defendants and their families;
  • people under probation supervision or youth offending teams/supervision; and
  • those with protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

What did we want to know?

Through this consultation process, the Council sought views on a series of changes to the existing guideline that would:

  • give greater prominence to guidance on how the courts can achieve a just and proportionate sentence;
  • bring the guideline up to date to reflect changes in case law;
  • add an explanation of how to approach sentencing offences committed before other offences for which an offender has already been sentenced;
  • provide more examples showing how the guideline might apply to certain situations; and
  • make the guideline easier to use and navigate while retaining the existing level of detail.

The Council believes that offenders, victims and others concerned with a case should understand how the overall sentence has been reached so is also proposing a change that will prompt the courts to explain how the sentence is structured.

Want to know more?

You can read our blog explaining how the Totality guideline works and what judges and magistrates need to think about when sentencing an offender for more than one offence or where the offender is already serving a sentence.

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