The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation to help determine its future direction, balancing its priorities against limited resources. The Council is using the opportunity of its 10th anniversary to take stock of its achievements and consider where it should focus its efforts over the next 10 years.
The consultation, which will run from 10 March to 9 June 2020, is seeking views from consultees across the criminal justice system (CJS) on how it should shape and prioritise five principal areas of activity.
The Council receives many requests to develop additional guidelines. The key considerations in this area revolve around whether the Council would add more value developing new guidelines and revising existing ones; producing guidelines for higher volume or lower volume offences; or developing overarching principles or more offence specific guidelines.
Analysis and research
Analysis and research is an integral part of guideline development. It helps the Council identify whether there is a problem with sentencing, for example whether there is concern over the impact of sentencing on particular types of offenders. Research also helps the Council set sentencing ranges and determine the likely implications of a guideline. The key considerations for consultation are how this strand of work could be improved and which areas should be prioritised.
Promoting public confidence
The Council has a duty, when developing guidelines, to have regard to the need to promote public confidence in the CJS. The Council has interpreted this duty as an obligation to take active steps to promote public confidence in the CJS, and particularly in sentencing. We will be asking consultees to help us consider: to what extent the Council should be responsible for promoting public confidence and which areas of activity we could most usefully pursue.
Cost and effectiveness of sentencing
The Council also has a duty to have regard to the cost of different sentences and their relative effectiveness in preventing reoffending. The key considerations are whether the Council has sufficiently addressed this duty, whether there are broader issues we should consider and whether additional research should be carried out on the effectiveness of sentencing.
How the Council works
The Council is required to consult on draft guidelines before producing the definitive versions. We consult routinely, especially among sentencers and those who work in criminal justice. The key considerations are how the Council can improve the process for regular respondents, whether there are organisations or people we should be reaching but are not, and whether we should provide additional materials to help guideline users.