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Courts: Sentencing

Volume 691: debated on Monday 30 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who is responsible for ensuring that all sentencers understand the availability, effectiveness and limitations of non-custodial sentences. [HL3174]

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 amended Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to require the Secretary of State to publish information enabling those engaged in the administration of justice to become aware of the relative effectiveness of different sentences in preventing reoffending and in promoting public confidence in the criminal justice system. The Research Development and Statistics Directorate within the National Offender Management Service publishes research on the effectiveness of sentences and interventions in reducing reoffending.

The Judicial Studies Board conducts training for judges and magistrates. The National Offender Management Service provides input to this training about the options available to sentencers for punishment in the community and evidence about relative effectiveness.

Liaison meetings are held regularly between probation and sentencers at a local level. These provide an opportunity for probation to provide up-to-date information about the availability within its area of different programmes and other provision which can form part of non-custodial sentences.

In their pre-sentence reports for the courts in individual cases, probation officers make clear when they consider that a non-custodial sentence is appropriate. They will explain why this is the case and deal with the availability of potential components of the sentence such as drug or alcohol treatment.