Changes to the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines and associated explanatory materials

Closed 15 Apr 2020

Opened 22 Jan 2020


What is this consultation about?

The Sentencing Council has received suggestions from guideline users in magistrates’ courts on improvements that could usefully be made to guidelines and the explanatory materials that accompany them.  The Council has considered these helpful suggestions and has produced this short consultation paper in order to seek the views of a wide range of guideline users on the proposals.

The proposed changes relate chiefly to the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Guidelines (MCSG) but may also impact on sentencing in the Crown Court for breach of a community order.

What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines which courts in England and Wales must follow when passing a sentence. The Council consults on its proposed guidelines before they come into force and on any proposed changes to existing guidelines.

Which offences and guidelines are covered by the proposed changes?

The proposals are for minor changes to the following guidelines:

  • Drive whilst disqualified
  • Breach of a community order
  • Totality

There are proposed changes to the following sections of the explanatory materials to the MCSG:

  • Fines and financial orders:
    • Approach to the assessment of fines
      • Assessment of financial circumstances
    • Prosecution costs
    • Victim surcharge
  • Road traffic offences – disqualification
    • ‘Totting up’ disqualification

There is also a proposal to add a reference and link to the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB) to each page of the explanatory materials.

The proposals do not apply to guidelines for sentencing children and young people.

Additional information and response paper

This consultation exercise is accompanied by a resource assessment,  which can be found at:

Following the conclusion of this consultation exercise, a response will be published at:

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. 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.

In addition, responses may be shared with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.

Our privacy notice sets out the standards that you can expect from the Sentencing Council when we request or hold personal information (personal data) about you; how you can get access to a copy of your personal data; and what you can do if you think the standards are not being met.


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