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Sentencing Bodies (Appointments)

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what process is used to appoint members to the (a) Sentencing Guidelines Council and (b) Sentencing Advisory Panel; how vacancies are advertised in each case; and what criteria are used to assess candidates. (80355)

Under section 167 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, as amended by Schedule, Part 1, paragraph 357 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Lord Chief Justice appoints the seven judicial members of the Sentencing Guidelines Council. The four non-judicial members of the Council are appointed by the Home Secretary after consultation with the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. A person is eligible to be appointed as a judicial member if he is: a Lord Justice of Appeal; a judge of the High Court; a circuit judge; a district judge (magistrates courts); or a lay justice. The judicial members must include a circuit judge, a district judge and a lay judge. A non-judicial member is eligible if he has experience in one of more of the following areas: policing, criminal prosecution, criminal defence, and the promotion of the welfare of victims of crime.

The Lord Chief Justice nominated the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, the Chair of the Criminal Committee of the Judicial Studies Board, and the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) to be members of the Council and these appointments were agreed. It was also agreed that the Director of Public Prosecutions would be the member with criminal prosecution experience. The two circuit judges, the lay magistrate and the other non-judicial members were appointed after open competition following advertisements in the national media, and through targeted advertisements in professional publications and websites, including those aimed at BME communities. All appointments were made in accordance with the rules of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) and an independent member sat on the interview panels.

Members of the Sentencing Advisory Panel are appointed by the Lord Chancellor following consultation with the Home Secretary and the Lord Chief Justice. Panel members are appointed following open competition and are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds both from within and outside the criminal justice system. Panel members serve in a personal capacity, bringing the knowledge and experience they have gained in their professional and voluntary roles to bear on the issues under discussion. As with the appointed members of the Council, advertisements are widely placed and the recruitment process followed the OCPA procedures with an independent member sitting on the interview panels.