Reduction in sentence for a guilty plea guideline consultation

Closed 5 May 2016

Opened 11 Feb 2016


The Sentencing Council is consulting on a draft reduction in sentence for a guilty plea guideline and is seeking the views of people interested in criminal sentencing.

The Council is required by law (Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s.120(3)(a)) to produce a guideline on reductions for guilty pleas.

There is a current definitive guideline issued by the Council’s predecessor body, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) in 2007 (see link below – PDF 1).

The Council collected data on the timings and levels of guilty pleas using the Crown Court Sentencing Survey.  This data, taken together with case law and research carried out with sentencers on how the SGC guideline is used suggests that the SGC guideline is not always applied consistently and that levels of reductions in some cases appear to be higher than those recommended by the guideline (see link below -PDF 3 for further details of the research).

The Council has designed the revised guideline for guilty plea reductions to clarify the levels of reduction appropriate for the different stages at which the plea is entered. The revised guideline seeks to encourage those defendants who are aware of their guilt to enter a plea as early in the court process as possible. When this occurs, victims and witnesses are spared having to appear at court to testify and the police and Crown Prosecution Service can apply their resources to the investigation and prosecution of other cases.

It is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on the draft guideline on reductions for guilty pleas and not the existence of reductions for guilty pleas which is set out in statute.  Neither is the Council consulting in this instance on the sentencing levels for individual offences. 

We will treat all responses as public documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and we may attribute comments and include a list of all respondents’ names in any final report we publish. We may also share responses with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.  If you wish to submit a confidential response, you should contact us before sending the response.  PLEASE NOTE – we will disregard automatic confidentiality statements generated by an IT system.

The Sentencing Council will review the responses to the questions and will use these to produce a definitive guideline.

It may be helpful to have a copy of the draft guideline open (see link below – PDF 2) as you work through this consultation.

To view the related documents please right click and open in a new tab.


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