Sentencing Council Established
VSS Support for a new Scottish Sentencing Council
Victim Support Scotland has supported the establishment of the Scottish Sentencing Council to promote consistency and transparency in sentencing practice, assist in developing sentencing policy and encourage better understanding of sentences across Scotland.
Established Late 2015
Victim Support Scotland is pleased to see that a Scottish Sentencing Council (SSC), as provided for through the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, was established in the winter of 2015.
The Scottish Sentencing Council is chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk and includes five other judicial office holders, three legal members, a police officer, a victims’ representative and another non-judicial member.
We welcome the fact that the Council includes a representative with knowledge of the issues faced by victims of crime. We believe that the inclusion of a victim representative is essential to ensure that the Council receives information on the full range of issues, offences and external circumstances that may need further guidance.
Victim Support Scotland believes that the same level of service and recognition should be provided to all victims of crime and the same sentence should be given for the same offence wherever in Scotland the case is being heard. We hope that the introduction of sentencing guidance will lessen the local disparities currently found in Scotland and enable courts to deliver similar outcomes for the same crime type across Scotland.
Consistency of Sentencing
In order for the public to gain more confidence in the criminal justice sector, it is necessary to demonstrate the delivery of more consistent sentencing across Scotland. For this reason, Victim Support Scotland hopes that the Scottish Sentencing Council will establish a public domain where victims may look for sentencing trends to anticipate and compare with circumstances in their own case. This would enable victims to get an overview of current sentencing practice, which will set their expectations on a reasonable level. Publishing sentencing decisions will also ensure that the public can assess the work of the courts in a more open manner and evaluate whether or not the courts follow the guidance and deliver sentences within the set range of potential outcomes.