Perverting the course of justice and Witness intimidation consultation

Closed 22 Jun 2022

Opened 30 Mar 2022


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 proposed guidelines before they come into force and makes changes to the guidelines as a result of consultations.

Why Perverting the Course of Justice and Witness Intimidation offences?

There currently is no guideline for perverting the course of justice. This can be a serious offence and the Council felt that developing a guideline would be of benefit to courts.   

There is currently limited guidance for witness intimidation offences in the magistrates’ court, but no guidance for cases sentenced in the Crown Court. Again the Council felt that providing a fuller guideline for use across all courts would be beneficial.

This consultation paper has been produced in order to seek views from as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of these offences.

During the 12- week consultation period, views on the draft guidelines will be explored with sentencers. Following the consultation, all the responses will be considered, and definitive guidelines published. The Council has also produced a resource assessment for the guidelines, along with a statistical bulletin and data tables showing current sentencing practice for these offences. These documents and the draft guidelines can be found on the Council’s website:

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guidelines more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • the types and lengths of sentence that should be passed;
  •  Whether there are any issues relating to disparity of sentencing and/or broader matters relating to equality and diversity that the guidelines could and should address; and
  • anything else you think should be considered.

We would like to hear from anyone who uses sentencing guidelines in their work or who has an interest in sentencing. We would also like to hear from individuals and organisations representing anyone who could be affected by the proposals including:

  • victims and their families;
  • defendants and their families;
  • those under probation supervision or youth offending teams/supervision;
  • those with protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

 It is important to note that the Council is consulting on sentencing these offences and not on the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.


  • Legal professionals


  • Criminal justice