The sentencing guideline which seeks to reduce reoffending among young people was approved today in the High Court of Justiciary.
Developed by the Scottish Sentencing Council, the guideline "Sentencing young people" will require courts to have regard to rehabilitation as a primary consideration in sentencing young people, in recognition of their greater capacity for change. It will come in to effect for all courts in Scotland from Wednesday 26 January 2022.
Following extensive research and consultation, the Council submitted the guideline to the High Court for approval in September. It was approved by the Lord Justice General Lord Carloway, Lord Woolman and Lord Pentland at a hearing this morning.
The guideline will apply to the sentencing of those who are under the age of 25 at the date of their plea of guilty or when a finding of guilt is made against them.
It is intended to be read alongside the first two of the Council’s guidelines approved by the High Court, "Principles and purposes of sentencing" and "The sentencing process". Together, these guidelines will apply to all offences in all courts in Scotland, supporting consistency in sentencing and improving public understanding of how sentencing decisions are made.
Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and chair of the Council, commented: "The guideline explains in a clear and accessible way why a young person should be sentenced differently from a fully mature adult, with rehabilitation as a primary consideration. Its approval by the High Court today is a significant milestone which will help to increase understanding and awareness of this complex and challenging area and, by setting out the various matters which should be taken into account when sentencing a young person, will be of assistance to sentencers and practitioners alike.
"It also marks the end of the first phase of the Council’s work. Since the Council was established in 2015, our focus has been on completing a suite of three general guidelines which will set out a high-level framework for sentencing in Scotland. The sentencing young people guideline is the final part of that framework and its approval allows us to turn our full attention to guidelines on specific offences.
"The Council is grateful to all those who have contributed to the development of this guideline, from members of the judiciary and others who engaged with us in the early stages of our research and evidence-gathering, to the individuals and organisations who responded to the public consultation."
The Council will soon publish its third business plan, setting out its proposed work programme for the period until 2024, and providing an update on its current work including the development of guidelines in respect of death by driving offences and sexual offences involving rape, sexual assault and indecent images of children.