The Law Commission has launched a short consultation on youth sentencing as part of its work to create a single Sentencing Code.
Over the past three years the Commission has consulted widely on plans to make sentencing simpler, fairer and quicker through the introduction of a consolidated Code.
A small number of youth sentencing laws had previously been omitted from public consultation exercises while the Ministry of Justice Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales was taking place.
Following its publication, a new five-week long supplementary consultation has today been launched in order to ensure that all provisions in the draft Bill receive public scrutiny.
Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:
“People want and expect clarity and transparency when the courts sentence offenders, but judges face an increasingly tough task when doing so.
“A single Sentencing Code clearly makes sense. It will make sentencing simpler, cut court waiting times and help make sure people get the justice they deserve.
“And now by including more of youth sentencing we’re making sure it is as comprehensive as it can be. We welcome views.”
Youth sentencing additions
In July 2017 the Law Commission began a 6-month public consultation on plans for a Sentencing Code, meeting over 1,400 lawyers, policymakers and judges in the process.
The main consultation paper dealt with certain provisions applicable to youths such as committals for sentence, remittal to the youth court, various forms of detention and the general provisions applicable to children and young persons under the age of 18.
But certain provisions were deliberately omitted from that consultation and draft Bill to await the Ministry of Justice Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales. Once that review concluded, work continued on the youth justice provisions.
Now the Law Commission is consulting on the redrafting of:
- Referral Orders
- Reparation Orders
- Orders capable of being imposed upon parents or guardians consequent on a finding of guilt in relation to a child or young person for whom they have parental responsibility
- Youth Rehabilitation Orders
- Detention and Training Orders
The Commission also asks a number of consultation questions on specific proposed technical amendments to the provisions.
The consultation closes 27 April 2018.
The Law Commission is proposing a new Sentencing Code which would:
- help stop unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law of sentencing, simplify many complex provisions and remove the need to refer to historic legislation;
- save up to £255million over the next decade by avoiding unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing clogging up the court system;
- rewrite the law in modern language, improving public confidence and allowing non-lawyers to understand sentencing more easily; and
- allow judges to use the modern sentencing powers for both current and historic cases, making cases simpler to deal with and ensuring justice is better served.
However, the Sentencing Code would not:
- alter the maximum sentences for criminal offences;
- subject any offender to a harsher penalty than that which could have been imposed at the time of their offence;
- extend minimum sentencing provisions or create new minimum sentences;
- reduce judicial discretion; or
- replace sentencing guidelines or the work of the Sentencing Council.