Pre-sentence reports

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Pre-sentence reports
  • Pre-sentence reports
  • When a pre-sentence report is mandatory
  • Adjournment for preparation of pre-sentence report
  • Content of a pre-sentence report
  • Disclosure of a pre-sentence report

Pre-sentence reports

This Practice Note reflects the procedural code for sentencing offenders in England and Wales (Sentencing Code) that applies from 1 December 2020, as set out in Parts 2–13 of the Sentencing Act 2020 (SA 2020). For those considering whether the Sentencing Code applies to their case, see Practice Note: Sentencing Code.

Pre-sentence reports

A pre-sentence report (PSR) is a report usually prepared by the National Probation Service (NPS) (but could be a social worker member of a youth offending team, for young defendants) with a view to assisting the court in determining the most suitable way of dealing with a defendant at sentencing.

The PSR will usually be in writing. It may be presented orally in court unless the defendant is under 18 and the court is considering the imposition of a custodial sentence under specific provisions relating to the imposition of determinate sentences, extended sentences and life sentences on young offenders, in which case it must be in writing.

When a pre-sentence report is mandatory

In the case of a custodial sentence, the court must obtain and consider a PSR in certain circumstances, which are contained in the relevant provisions of the Sentencing Code. This includes, for adult offenders:

  1. before the court forms the opinion that the offence, or the combination of offences, are serious enough to justify a custodial sentence or community order

  2. before it forms

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