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Committee to question advisory body on court sentencing

1 February 2021

The House of Commons Select Committee on Justice, which scrutinises the policies and actions of the Ministry of Justice, is to take evidence at its next public session on the work of the Sentencing Council.

The Council issues guidelines on sentencing which courts must follow unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so. It is an independent body that falls within the Ministry’s family of ‘arms-length’ bodies.

The Committee is expected to address, among other matters, current issues in sentencing such as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on judges’ decisions about the harshness of custodial terms.

Committee Members – MPs who represent various political parties - are also due to ask questions about a consultation launched by the Council in 2020 called ‘What next for the Sentencing Council’. This consultation reflected, and sought views on, the first ten years of the Sentencing Council’s work since it was established in 2009. The Justice Committee’s response to the consultation suggested that more regular appearances before the Committee could help to raise awareness of the role of the Council among Members of Parliament and the public.

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales was set up to promote greater transparency and consistency in sentencing, while maintaining the independence of the judiciary. Its President is the Lord Chief Justice, The Right Hon Lord Burnett of Maldon. It has fourteen members, including a Chairman, who is currently Lord Justice Holroyde. Seven of the other members are judicial appointees drawn from the range of criminal courts. Six more members are non-judicial appointees, including for example a barrister and a representative of a victims’ organisation.

Witnesses

Tuesday 2 February 2021

At 2.30pm:

  • Lord Justice Holroyde, Chairman of the Sentencing Council

  • Steve Wade, Head, Office of the Sentencing Council

Further information

Image: GrindtXX, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons