The Sentencing Council for England and Wales was set up to promote greater transparency and consistency in sentencing, whilst maintaining the independence of the judiciary.
The primary role of the Council is to issue guidelines on sentencing which the courts must follow unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so.
The Sentencing Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice and replaced the Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel in April 2010.
The Sentencing Council has responsibility for:
- developing sentencing guidelines and monitoring their use;
- assessing the impact of guidelines on sentencing practice. It may also be required to consider the impact of policy and legislative proposals relating to sentencing, when requested by the Government; and
- promoting awareness amongst the public regarding the realities of sentencing and publishing information regarding sentencing practice in Magistrates’ and the Crown Court.
In addition to the functions above, the Council must:
- consider the impact of sentencing decisions on victims;
- monitor the application of the guidelines, better to predict the effect of them; and
- play a greater part in promoting understanding of, and increasing public confidence in, sentencing and the criminal justice system.
Appointments to the Council
Lord Justice Leveson, a Court of Appeal judge was appointed Chairman of the Sentencing Council in November 2009. A further 13 appointments were made prior to the Council formally coming into existence in April 2010. All judicial appointments were made by the Lord Chief Justice with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor whilst non-judicial appointments were made by the Lord Chancellor with the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice following open competition.
To find out more about each member of the Sentencing Council, go to the Council members’ page.