Public Consultation On Draft Guidelines For Sentencing Offenders

1 August 2017, 06:25

Prison

The public will have a say in the development of guidelines that will influence the way offenders are sentenced in Scotland's courts.

The Scottish Sentencing Council is launching a public consultation on its first draft guideline, which sets out the principles and purposes of sentencing for all offences.

The council - made up of judicial, legal and lay members - was set up as an independent advisory body to promote consistency in sentencing across Scotland. Preparing guidelines for the courts is an essential part of its work.

The draft guideline sets out an overarching principle of "fairness and proportionality'' and a series of supporting principles which contribute to this; namely that similar offences should be treated in a similar manner, sentences should be no more severe than necessary, reasons for sentencing decisions should be stated clearly and people should be treated equally.

In preparing the draft document, the council said it has carried out research, consulted with judges across Scotland and engaged with other interested organisations.

Council chair Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, said: "The fundamental principles and purposes of sentencing have never before been expressly defined in Scotland. We believe that creating this guideline will have significant benefits both to the public and the courts, increasing consistency and transparency in sentencing.

"We are committed to taking an open and transparent approach to developing sentencing guidelines and the public consultation process is a vital part of that - we cannot complete our work in isolation.

"I would urge anyone with an interest in how sentences are decided and in the overall aims of sentencing in Scotland to take this opportunity to participate in our public consultation.

"We welcome views and comment on all of our work, including on suggested topics for future guidelines.''

People can take part in the public consultation by visiting the council's website. It will run until October 27.