UK Sentencing Guidelines

In the UK they recognise the inherently difficult task of sentencing appropriately in the summary jurisdiction. The volume of work, coupled with the number of discretionary considerations and ancillary orders available, make it difficult for judicial officers to avoid falling into procedural error.

In recognition of the complexity of the task, the UK’s Sentencing Guidelines Council circulates the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines.

It’s a series of checklists and charts designed to assist a sentencing court meet its responsibilities, from considering a reduction in penalty for an early plea to contemplation of making a football banning order.

The material is subject to Crown copyright (not to be reproduced for profit without permission) but otherwise there’s nothing secret about it. And why should there be? Distributing a document like this can only help the courts to arrive at the kind of consistency and transparency they’re aiming for.

There are moves toward something like a Magistrates’ Bench Book by the Judicial College of Victoria. My prediction is that something similar will be brought in here soon.

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