Sentencing Council

Dear Lord Justice Holroyde,

Expanded Explanations in Sentencing Guidelines

I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on ‘Expanded Explanations in Sentencing Guidelines’.

As you will be aware my role is to promote the interests of victims and witnesses. As such I am supportive of the objectives of this consultation to improve consistency and clarity of sentencing decisions and to improve transparency for victims.

Many victims find sentencing hugely complex, especially when what is handed down in court rarely reflects the reality of what the offender will serve. For example, in cases where the offender is handed a determinate sentence, many victims hear the ‘headline’ sentence but do not appreciate that the offender is likely to be released either at the halfway point or two thirds point of the sentence. My hope is that these guidelines will also help witness care units in explaining the reality of a sentence to victims and give them an opportunity to ask questions.

As an aside, I am keen that all victims should be given the opportunity to request a copy of the judge’s sentencing remarks. This would enable the victim to absorb the judge’s reflections in their own time away from the pressure of the court room. It would also enhance their understanding of how the sentence length was determined.

In line with our usual practice I will be making this letter available on my website.

Yours sincerely

The Baroness Newlove of Warrington

Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales

 

 

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