Significant progress was made by the Scottish Sentencing Council in 2020-21 despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Council's newly published annual report.
During the year to 31 March 2021, the Council progressed its guidelines on the sentencing process, and sentencing young people, both of which have since been approved by the High Court. The sentencing process guideline is now in force; the guideline on sentencing young people takes effect from 26 January 2022.
In addition to extensive work on these guidelines, the Council made progress in a variety of areas, including:
- continuing work on sentencing guidelines relating to offences of causing death by driving, sexual offences (beginning with guidelines on rape, sexual assault and indecent images of children) and sentence discounting;
- the publication of a range of research reports, including literature reviews on sentencing for rape, sentencing for sexual assault, and on sentence discounting, as well as a report on public understanding of and attitudes to sentencing for death by driving offences; and
- a range of stakeholder engagement, including a consultative exercise with sentencers across Scotland carried out in early 2021, the findings of which were recently published by the Council in an issues paper, Judicial perspectives of community-based disposals.
Writing in the foreword, the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, who chairs the Council, states: "It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Council members and staff that we can now look back and note the significant progress made despite the disruption wrought by the pandemic."
She further comments: "Since the Council was established in 2015, our main focus has been on completing a suite of general guidelines which will set out a high level framework for sentencing in Scotland. The work carried out in 2020-21 was fundamental in enabling the six sentencing process and sentencing young people guidelines to join the "Principles and purposes of sentencing" guideline as the final parts of that framework, meaning that we are now able to enter a new phase, where our focus will be on offence specific guidelines."