Go to online survey

The Council is undertaking research into how judges, magistrates and legal advisers access and use sentencing guidelines. The aim of the research is to help us understand more about how guidelines are used and the practical details about how they are accessed online.

Sentencing guidelines are used every day in criminal courts across England and Wales but the ways in which individual court users use them, how they are accessed and how often, could be subject to a great deal of variation.

Phase one

The first phase of the research is an online survey. The survey is designed to ascertain how often sentencers and legal advisers access guidelines, how the access the guidelines, and the different ways they approach offence-specific and overarching guidelines. Our aim is to collect the views of a broad range of judges, magistrates and legal advisers. This will enable us to hear from not just those users who are confident, comfortable and experienced in navigating websites and online guidance, but also those with less experience of using computers, who consider themselves less tech-savvy and may be more comfortable using print outs of guidelines.

Phase two

The responses we receive to the survey will help inform a second stage of focused, qualitative research, which will dig deeper into the methods by which users access, read and apply guidelines and access and use the website. If you would like to take part in this stage of the research, which might include interview, observation or virtual user testing, there is an opportunity for you to give us your email address at the end of the survey.

Thank you

The Council is very grateful to all the judges, magistrates and legal advisers who are helping us with this research. We will use the information you give us to inform the future structure and design of sentencing guidelines, and help us prioritise where improvements and revisions – whether presentational or substantive – should be made. It will also give us a clearer picture of how best to present guidelines online, and how we can make the experience for all users easier and clearer.

The online survey is open until 2 October 2022. We expect the second phase of the research to be completed by the end of the year.