Scottish Sentencing Council date announced

A date has been announced by the Scottish Ministers for the establishment of the new Scottish Sentencing Council (SSC).

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the SSC will be established by October this year with a view to having a first meeting in November.

The objectives of the Council are to promote consistency and transparency in sentencing practice, assist in developing sentencing policy and encourage better understanding of sentences across Scotland.

The SSC, which will also be responsible for producing sentencing guidelines for the judiciary, will be chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk and will include five other judicial office holders, three legal members, a police officer, a victims’ representative and another non-judicial member.

All proposals for sentencing guidelines from the Council will be considered by the High Court of Justiciary for approval. 

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway said: “I welcome the progress being made towards establishing the Scottish Sentencing Council.  

“The creation of the Council, with its responsibility to prepare guidelines to assist the courts in sentencing and to describe the potential effects of those guidelines, will help to ensure a consistent and coherent approach to sentencing practice and policy in Scotland.  

“It will also assist the public, by providing information on sentencing matters and by improving understanding and awareness of the sentencing process.

“Importantly, the founding legislation provides for a broad and inclusive range of experience across the Council membership. This will place it in good stead for carrying out the significant tasks ahead.” 

Practical matters are currently being agreed with the Scottish Government, including the necessary subordinate legislation to be passed by the Scottish Parliament and the appointment of members to the Council in advance of its creation.  The detail on the plans for the Council’s establishment will be announced in due course.

Once established it will be for the Scottish Sentencing Council to decide how best to meet its objectives. However legislation put in place by the Scottish Parliament sets out the functions of the SSC, including to:

  • Produce guidelines covering areas of sentencing
  • Support research and academic work relevant to its remit
  • Collate and publish information on sentencing decisions (this may include how sentencing guidelines have been applied by the courts)
  • Publish information about sentencing