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Are More Consistent Sentences on the Way for Scotland’s Criminals?

From October 2015, a new body, namely the Scottish Sentencing Council (SSC) will be address criminal sentencing across Scotland.

In particular, the remit of the SSC, which is due to meet for the first time in November 2015, includes promoting consistency and transparency in Scottish sentencing in the criminal courts, developing and improving sentencing policy, obtaining a better understanding of sentencing practices throughout Scotland, and perhaps most importantly, producing sentencing guidelines for the nation’s judiciary.

In terms of makeup – the Lord Justice Clerk, who will chair the SSC, will be joined by three legal professionals, an additional five holders of judicial office, together with a victims’ representative, another non-judicial member and a representative from Police Scotland (ie a policeman or woman).

Commenting, Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Justice Secretary, said:

“We want to ensure that Scotland continues to have the most transparent criminal justice system possible.

“Sentencing can be an extremely complicated and emotive issue and the creation of the new Scottish Sentencing Council will offer greater clarity and openness around why and how sentences are decided while giving the public a better understanding of the process.

“By outlining the purposes and key principles that underpin judicial decision making, we can increase the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system and continue to ensure fair and appropriate sentences are delivered for the people of Scotland.

“While the Scottish Sentencing Council will create sentencing guidelines we continue to recognise that an independent judiciary is the fundamental cornerstone of the Scottish criminal justice system and the significant importance of judicial discretion in individual sentencing decisions.”

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