Draft sentencing guideline welcomed by Faculty

01 Nov


A GUIDELINE  setting out the principles and purposes behind sentencing in Scottish courts has been welcomed by the Faculty as a way of demystifying the process for the public.

The document has been drafted by the Scottish Sentencing Council, which sought views on it in a consultation.

In its response, the Faculty stated: “At present, sentencing can be as clear to court practitioners and other professionals as it is opaque to the public…The introduction of this guideline would give a definite, brief, easily understood document which would explain the often broad and undefined principles and purposes which underpin the sentencing process as exercised in the criminal courts day and daily.”

It added: “It is anticipated that the guidelines would lead to a greater public understanding of sentencing practice. As long as the guidelines themselves were acceptable to the public, and were followed and applied by the courts, then it could only be hoped that public confidence in sentencing would be increased.”

The Faculty backed the Council’s approach of placing “fairness and proportionality” as the overarching principle of sentencing, with other supporting principles.

It suggested an addition to the supporting principles.

“While lawfulness and lack of discrimination imply consideration of human rights, it may be that it would be appropriate to specifically state that consideration should be had of the human rights of the offender and, in certain circumstances, the family and other dependents of the offender,” said the Faculty.

“Similarly, while what is presently 2(i) mentions ‘impact on the victim’ it may be that it should make reference to the victim’s family or dependents, especially when one considers cases in which the victim is deceased.”