Following a lengthy consultation process, the Law Commission, the independent body that recommends reforms to the law, has published a proposed Sentencing Code, which would create a single statute containing all of the law on sentencing procedure as well as removing unnecessary provisions and updating the language. These changes would, the Law Commission argues, reduce delays by making the sentencing process easier, simpler and clearer.
The Sentencing Code would, according to the Law Commission, save more than £250 million over 10 years by avoiding unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing, help stop unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law, and improve public confidence in the law and understanding of sentencing. It would not, however, alter the maximum sentences for any offences, extend minimum sentencing provisions or create new minimum sentences, reduce judicial discretion, or replace sentencing guidelines or the work of the Sentencing Council.
The MA responded to the two consultations run by the Law Commission on the Sentencing Code. Commenting on the proposals, the MA's National Chair John Bache said:
'The Magistrates Association welcomes the Law Commission's report and proposed Sentencing Code. This has been a huge undertaking, but we fully support the proposed legislation and agree that it would have the stated positive benefits.
'It is likely to improve consistency of sentencing decisions by providing the main legislative framework in a single place but even more importantly, the Code provides clarity in the law governing sentencing. Clarity and transparency are key to public confidence in the justice system.
'We are grateful to the Law Commission for carefully considering our two responses to their consultations, and are pleased to see the Commission found them helpful.'
It is now up to the government to decide whether to legislate to introduce the Sentencing Code, which is available here.