About published guidelines
Under section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 the Sentencing Council must prepare two specific guidelines, both of which it has now published:
- the discharge of a court’s duty under section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c.44) (reduction in sentences for guilty pleas); and
- the application of any rule of law as to the totality of sentences.
Other sentencing guidelines
Section 120(4) of the Act provides that the Council may prepare sentencing guidelines about any other matter.
The majority of the guidelines are offence specific. They cover some of the most serious and most frequently dealt with offences, including attempted murder, assault, robbery and sexual offences. They also cover some offences that are rarely sentenced and where the courts might need most assistance. Where no offence specific guideline exists, sentencers will follow the General guideline.
The Council also produces overarching guidelines that provide sentencers with principles for sentencing in specific circumstances, such as sentencing children and young people or sentencing offenders with mental disorders. These overarching guidelines apply across all offences.
The Council gives priority to guidelines that will fulfil its overarching aim to promote a clear, fair and consistent approach to sentencing, and considers a number of factors when deciding which guidelines to develop.