The Sentencing Council has launched a consultation on providing more detailed explanations of aggravating and mitigating factors in offence-specific guidelines in England and Wales. They are consulting about both the concept of providing the additional information and the content of that information.
The expanded explanations would embed additional information in digital guidelines and would provide judges, magistrates and other court users with useful information relating to commonly-used factors, as well as improving transparency for victims, defendants and the wider public. The explanations would, the Sentencing Council suggests, help to ensure that relevant considerations are taken into account in sentencing and would help magistrates to access relevant information more easily. The proposals apply to aggravating and mitigating factors in all offence specific guidelines for sentencing adults or organisations, and would cover factors such as the commission of an offence while under the influence of alcohol, vulnerability of victims, age and/or lack of maturity, and being the sole or primary carer for dependent relatives. The additional material would be designed to reflect and encourage current best practice rather than to alter sentencing practice.
The consultation runs until 23 May 2019 and the MA will be submitting a response, so if you have any comments that you would like to contribute, please contact Policy and Research Assistant Hattie Stair.