The Council conducts targeted and bespoke data collections in magistrates’ courts to gather detailed sentencing information regarding summary and triable either way offences.

Magistrates and district judges are asked to complete a form (this may be paper or online, depending on the year of the data collection) for every adult offender whenever they are sentencing the offence, or set of offences, for which the Council wants to collect detailed data.

Sometimes these data collections will use a sample of magistrates’ courts but sometimes all courts will be targeted, depending on the offence.

The forms ask sentencers to provide detailed information regarding:

  • the culpability and harm factors they have taken into account;
  • any aggravating and mitigating factors (including previous convictions) that the sentencer considered to be relevant to the final sentence; and
  • details about the sentenced imposed, including the sentence starting point and guilty plea, where relevant.

Where possible, we collect data both before and after a new guideline has come into force. Analysis of data from these collections helps us explore what might be influencing outcomes and to understand how the guideline has been implemented in practice. We are now also publishing the underlying data from these collections that we use in our analysis, so that users may conduct their own analysis.