A report examined policy on crime and punishment in the United Kingdom and, in particular, the reliance on imprisonment, reasons behind the high prison population, and the possibilities for both reducing the number of people imprisoned, and the length of sentences. The report looked at changes in the use and practice of imprisonment in the United Kingdom over the previous twenty years and argued in favour of the reduction of the prison population, as well as offering a range of strategies to reduce reliance on imprisonment, including: diversion from the courts; greater use of alternative forms of sentence; prohibition or restriction of the imposition of short custodial sentences; removal or restriction of imprisonment as a sentencing option for certain offences; the review of sentence lengths; and the removal of people with mental illness or addictions from prisons.
Source: Rob Allen, Andrew Ashworth, Roger Cotterrell, Andrew Coyle, Antony Duff, Nicola Lacey, Alison Liebling, and Rod Morgan, A Presumption Against Imprisonment: Social order and social values, British Academy
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was given a third reading. The Bill was designed to make a range of provisions regarding sentencing, youth justice, and the courts, including: restriction of the frequency and circumstances of the use of adult cautions; provisions regarding early release; tracking offenders while on licence; recovery of costs in criminal cases; the creation of secure colleges for young offenders; requiring the presence of an appropriate adult when giving a caution or conditional caution to 17 year olds; continuation of a breached or superseded referral order to allow the restorative justice element to be completed; removal of the requirement for some offences to be heard by magistrates in open court; the extension of provisions for some cases to 'leapfrog' the Court of Appeal (directly to the Supreme Court); provisions to change the requirement for relief, and the provisions for costs and cost capping, in judicial review cases; drugs testing of prisoners; and offences of sending letters with intent to cause distress and anxiety.
Source: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, Ministry of Justice, TSO | Debate 17 June 2014, columns 962-1083, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
A new book brought together a collection of journal articles on sentencing in criminal justice cases, examining the issue from a range of critical perspectives.
Source: Thom Brooks (ed.), Sentencing, Ashgate Publications
A report examined the concept and application of 'community justice' in England and Wales, drawing on findings from a policy review, a review of existing data on civic participation, and empirical research on community activism in four deprived neighbourhoods (in north-east London, Bristol, Nottingham, and south Wales). The report concluded that 'community justice' was a worthwhile policy aspiration (if conceived largely as a matter of nurturing community spirit and informal social control) but it was difficult to promote the active participation of communities in the design or delivery of criminal justice services.
Source: Jessica Jacobson, Oonagh Skrine, Amy Kirby, and Gillian Hunter, Crime and 'Community': Exploring the scope for community involvement in criminal justice, Institute for Criminal Policy Research (Birkbeck, University of London)
An article presented the findings of focus group research into public attitudes to the sentencing of drug offences. It said that participants' responses were generally no more punitive than existing sentencing practice for less serious offences. Participants' overriding concerns were about the harms associated with drug offences rather than the culpability of drug offenders.
Source: Amy Kirby and Jessica Jacobson, 'Public attitudes to the sentencing of drug offences', Criminology and Criminal Justice, Volume 14 Number 3
An article examined levels of riot crimes across London in the six months after the 2011 riots. It argued that a significant drop in the incidence of this type of crime was consistent with a deterrence effect from the tougher sentencing imposed on those found guilty of involvement in the 2011 events.
Source: Brian Bell, Laura Jaitman, and Stephen Machin, 'Crime deterrence: evidence from the London 2011 riots', The Economic Journal, Volume 124 Number 576
A think-tank report examined community sentencing in England and Wales and made a range of recommendations, including: for more timely starts to sentences; for more rapid processing of sentence breaches, with consequences to include short prison stays of one or two days in some cases; for feedback to magistrates on the success of sentences; for greater family involvement in rehabilitation; and for reform of the drug rehabilitation element.
Source: Sentences in the Community: Reforms to restore credibility, protect the public and cut crime, Centre for Social Justice
A report examined the legal doctrine of joint enterprise, which allowed for more than one person to be charged and convicted of the same crime if it could be proved that the participants were working together (regardless of the role they played). The report said that the doctrine created the potential for injustice, and that there were calls for reform from within the legal profession.
Source: Maeve McClenaghan, Melanie McFadyean, and Rachel Stevenson, Joint Enterprise: An investigation into the legal doctrine of joint enterprise in criminal convictions, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
A report examined the way that Community Order sentences were delivered, how this varied for different types of offender, and offenders' compliance with their sentences. Drawing on data from the Offender Management Community Cohort Study (a longitudinal cohort study of offenders, aged 18 and over, who started Community Orders between October 2009 and December 2010), it said that sentencers used a wide range of combinations of sentence requirements, that sentence requirements were sometimes tailored to offenders, and that sentences were being implemented in accordance with the principles of good offender management. The report was part of a series of outputs from the study.
Source: Jack Cattell, Alan Mackie, Tricia Capes, and Chris Lord, Implementation of Community Orders: Results from the Offender Manager Community Cohort Study, Ministry of Justice
A report provided findings from the Offender Management Community Cohort Study, a longitudinal cohort study of offenders, aged 18 and over, who started Community Orders between October 2009 and December 2010. The report described which offenders received punitive requirements as part of a Community Order, the nature of these punitive elements, offenders' views of their sentences, and the level of compliance and breach within the orders. The report was part of a series of outputs from the study.
Source: Jack Cattell, Tom Kenny, Chris Lord, and Martin Wood, Community Orders with Punitive Requirements: Results from the Offender Management Community Cohort Study, Ministry of Justice
An article examined the ruling in Vinter and Others v United Kingdom, in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled that all offenders sentenced to life imprisonment had a right both to a prospect of release and to a review of their sentence. It outlined two principles that were implicit in the judgment: an opportunity to rehabilitate oneself; and a right to a review that would meet standards of due process. The article then considered the type of review that would satisfy these principles in England and Wales.
Source: Dirk van Zyl Smit, Pete Weatherby, and Simon Creighton, 'Whole life sentences and the tide of European human rights jurisprudence: what is to be done?', Human Rights Law Review, Volume 14 Issue 1
An article examined the implementation of the Intensive Alternative to Custody initiative in Greater Manchester, England, and considered the role played by probation staff in overcoming the concerns voiced by sentencers when presented with a pre-sentence report that proposed an alternative to custody.
Source: Emmeline Taylor, Rebecca Clarke, and Dervla McArt, 'The Intensive Alternative to Custody: "selling" sentences and satisfying judicial concerns', Probation Journal, Volume 61 Number 1
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was published. The Bill was designed to make a range of provisions regarding sentencing, youth justice, and the courts, including: restriction of the frequency and circumstances of the use of adult cautions; provisions regarding early release; tracking offenders while on licence; recovery of costs in criminal cases; the creation of secure colleges for young offenders; requiring the presence of an appropriate adult when giving a caution or conditional caution to 17 year olds; continuation of a breached or superseded referral order to allow the restorative justice element to be completed; removal of the requirement for some offences to be heard by magistrates in open court; the extension of provisions for some cases to 'leapfrog' the Court of Appeal (directly to the Supreme Court); and provisions to change the requirement for relief, and the provisions for costs and cost capping, in judicial review cases.
Source: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, Ministry of Justice, TSO
An article examined the extent to which the religion of an offender should be taken into account at the sentencing stage, in light of a more fully developed concept of 'equality' that had emerged from discrimination law. Formal equality required that religion should be taken into account where it fitted with established grounds relevant to 'offence seriousness' or mitigation; and the concept of 'substantive equality' required deeper consideration to be given to how established sentencing principles might have a greater impact on the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as religion.
Source: Chara Bakalis, 'The religion of the offender and the concept of equality in the sentencing process', Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Volume 2 Issue 2
An article examined whether the imposition of a mandatory life sentence for murder was in the best interests of justice, or whether homicide law would be better served by a discretionary sentencing system. It drew on interviews with 29 members of the English criminal justice system. It concluded that a discretionary sentencing framework was required to respond adequately to the many contexts within which the crime of murder was committed.
Source: Kate Fitz-Gibbon, 'The mandatory life sentence for murder: an argument for judicial discretion in England', Criminology and Criminal Justice, Volume 13 Number 5