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Sentencing Council revises "Principles" guideline following public comments

16 July 2018

A final version of its Principles and Purposes of Sentencing guideline is being submitted to the High Court of Justiciary for approval by the Scottish Sentencing Council, a newly published report reveals.

The report explains the Council's response to the public consultation on its draft guideline, which took place last year, with the responses to the consultation and an independent analysis being published earlier this year. It sets out the Council’s views on the key themes emerging from the consultation exercise, and how these have been taken into account in finalising the guideline.

In relation to the "core principle" of fairness and proportionality, the Council does not intend to add to its explanation of what these involve, as they are "intentionally broad concepts", but accepts that it may be useful to consider the comments made when developing any case studies which are published alongside the guideline.

As for the supporting principles, the Council wants to avoid creating the impression of a "hierarchy of principles", and "agrees that a reference to considering the impact on others affected by the offence (including the victim’s family, the offender’s family, or others) would be useful".

Reference to considering the impact of an offence on others affected by the case, in addition to the victim, will be included in the supporting principles.

On the purposes of sentencing, the Council again rejects any suggestions that a hierarchy should be created, as "the most relevant purpose or purposes of sentencing in each case will depend on its own particular facts". It has decided to include "protection of the public" and "rehabilitation of offenders" as distinct purposes of sentencing instead of the single "reduction of crime" in the draft. Some simplification and clarification of the other purposes has been agreed.

In response to other matters raised, the Council it will explain how parts of the guideline may operate in practice though the development of a case study or studies.

Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and chair of the Council, observed: "The Council took an early decision to consult publicly on all of our draft sentencing guidelines, helping ensure that any guidelines issued are of assistance both to the judiciary and to the wider public.

"The responses to our first public consultation exercise were invaluable in informing our work to finalise the Principles and Purposes of Sentencing guideline, which will soon be submitted to the High Court for approval.

"Ahead of this, and reflecting our commitment to take an open and transparent approach to the development of guidelines, this report sets out our views on the key points which arose during the consultation exercise and gives an indication of how we have adjusted our approach as a result."

She added: "I would like to thank all those who took the time to consider the consultation and to offer their views, helping to shape the development of Scotland’s first sentencing guideline."

Click here to view the report.


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