Sentencing Council research and analysis
The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 places obligations on the Sentencing Council to carry out research and analysis related to sentencing and sentencing guidelines. Our work in this area includes:
- Undertaking research and analysis to support the development of guidelines and other statutory duties
- Assessing the resource implications of guidelines
- Monitoring the operation and effect of sentencing guidelines and drawing conclusions
The Council’s research and analysis work augments the evidence base that underpins the sentencing guidelines and makes sure, in particular, that guidelines are informed by the views and experiences of sentencers.
We conduct research with users of the guidelines: primarily, Crown Court judges, district judges and magistrates. Where appropriate, we also seek the views of victims, defendants and the general public. The methods we use include surveys, face-to-face and telephone interviews and group discussions. Our researchers also review sentencing literature and analyse the transcripts of Crown Court judges’ sentencing remarks.
During the development of draft guidelines, we draw on a range of data sources to produce statistical information about current sentencing practice, including offence volumes, average custodial sentence lengths and breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity. We use this information to understand the parameters of current sentencing practice and to fulfil the Council’s public sector equality duty. To support the development and evaluation of guidelines we also put in place our own data collections in the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts to collect information on issues related to sentencing and sentencing guidelines.
Where necessary, the Council also undertakes research and analysis to support some of our wider statutory duties. This work includes research to support our public confidence duties and explore issues related to effectiveness in sentencing.