Skip to main content

Call for Evidence

Public opinion and understanding of sentencing


The Justice Committee’s inquiry into Open justice: court reporting in the digital age has highlighted that the decline in court reporting may have had an effect on how the public finds out about the courts’ approach to sentencing. It is also frequently argued that public understanding of sentencing can have an effect on public confidence in the wider criminal justice system.

The Sentencing Academy produced a report in January 2022, Public Knowledge of Sentencing Practice and Trends, which set out results of a survey conducted in 2021 that sought to find out what the public knows about sentencing. The report concluded that the public’s knowledge of certain aspects of sentencing is poor and it suggests a number of ways in which it could be improved.

Terms of reference

The Committee invites evidence on the following questions:

  • What does the public know about the current approach to sentencing in England and Wales?
  • How does the public access information on sentencing?
  • What are the barriers to improving public awareness of how sentencing works?
  • To what extent does public understanding of sentencing affect public confidence in the criminal justice system?
  • What could be done to improve public understanding of sentencing?
  • What is public opinion on sentencing, and how can it be ascertained or measured?
  • To what extent should public opinion inform sentencing policy and practice?

 Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words through the online portal by 5.00pm on Monday 22 August 2022.

Important information about making a submission

The Committee cannot publish submissions which refer to ongoing legal cases. Please contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.

Written evidence must address the terms of reference as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here.

In line with the general practice of select committees, the Justice Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.

The Committee will decide whether to accept each submission. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share. If you include personal information about other people in your submission, the Committee may decide not to publish it. Your contact details will never be published.

Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously, or about accepting but not publishing evidence, are made by the Committee. If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name), or confidentially (meaning it won't be published at all), you can make this request when you upload your submission.

The Committee has discretion over which submissions it accepts as evidence, and which of those it then publishes on its website. We may anonymise or redact some of your submission if it is published. The Committee may decide to accept evidence on a confidential basis. Confidential submissions remain available to the Committee but are not published or referred to in public. All written evidence will be considered by the Committee, whether or not it is published.

If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you, or other people, then the Committee has a duty to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority.

Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words through the online portal by 5.00pm on Monday 22 August 2022.


This call for written evidence has now closed.

Go back to Public opinion and understanding of sentencing Inquiry