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Drugs: Sentencing

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 26 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what changes were made to the sentencing guidelines for (a) magistrates and (b) Crown courts on drug offences in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (196120)

Magistrates Courts Sentencing Guidelines, produced by the Magistrates Association with the support of the Lord Chancellor, cover the main offences dealt with in those courts, including drugs offences. The guidelines were revised in September 2000 and January 2004 and are currently under review by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

The Court of Appeal provided guidelines on: supply and dealing in Class A drugs in the cases of R v. Diahit (1999) 2 Cr App R (S) 142, R v. Twisse (2001) 2 Cr App R (S) 37, and R v. Afonso and others (2004) EWCA Crim 2342; the importation of controlled drugs in the case of R v. Mashootlahi (2001) 1 Cr App R (S) 330; Class B drugs—amphetamine in the case of R v. Wijs and others (1999) 1 Cr App R (S) 181; cannabis (prior to its classification as a Class C drug) in the case of R v. Ronchetti (1998) 2 Cr App R (S) 100; possession with intent to supply—LSD in the case of R v. Hurley (1998) 1 Cr App R (S) 29; purity analysis of Class A drugs in the case of R v. Morris (2001) 1 Cr App R (S) 297; and cultivating cannabis in the case of R v. Herridge (2005) EWCA Crim 1410. In December 2004, the Council issued guidelines on seriousness, “Overarching principles: seriousness, and Reduction in sentence for a guilty plea”, which apply in all cases. The latter guideline was revised in July 2007. The Sentencing Advisory Panel is currently undertaking research and background work on drug offences, which is the first stage in the process of producing sentencing guidelines.