Council urges courts to consider coronavirus (COVID-19) when sentencing

Council urges courts to consider coronavirus (COVID-19) when sentencing

The chairman of the Sentencing Council, LJ Holroyde has written a statement to clarify the principles upon which people are sentenced, including for the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. LJ Holyrode noted that these principles were reaffirmed in R v Manning [2020] 4 WLR 77 and that the judge observed at that the current conditions in prisons should be taken into account when deciding whether to suspend a sentence.

The judge in Manning said: ‘Judges and magistrates can, therefore, and in our judgment should, keep in mind that the impact of a custodial sentence is likely to be heavier during the current emergency than it would otherwise be. Those in custody are, for example, confined to their cells for much longer periods than would otherwise be the case—currently, 23 hours a day. They are unable to receive visits.’

The general principles for sentencing remain, among others:

• each case must be considered on its own facts

• the court must protect the public and victims of crime

• a court must not impose a community sentence unless it is of the opinion that the offence was serious enough to warrant such a sentence, and must not pass a custodial sentence unless it is of the opinion that the offence was so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified (see: sections 148 and 152 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003)

Source: The application of sentencing principles during the Covid-19 emergency

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