The Sentencing Council and the Sentencing Academy discuss ‘Current issues in sentencing policy and research.’
The City Law School and the Sentencing Academy hosted the Sentencing Council’s Seminar on “Current issues in sentencing policy and research”, at The City Law School’s Sebastian Street building, on Friday 13th January 2023.
After opening remarks by the Chair of the Sentencing Council, Lord Justice William Davis, the audience was informed about the work of the Council and its current and future priorities.
A key element of these priorities is a focus on equality and diversity, and there was a session on the recently released report of research carried out by the University of Hertfordshire on equality and diversity in sentencing, titled, “Equality and Diversity in the work of the Sentencing Council”, presented by Dr Qi Chen, Diana Kirsch and Dr Mateja Vuk”.
This was followed by a panel discussion on equality and diversity featuring the University of Oxford’s Dr Shona Minson, speaking about the treatment of women in the prison system in England and Wales. Jacqui MacDonald-Davis, Chair of the Magistrates’ Association Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Network, addressed the importance of a diverse pool of magistrates in the judiciary. This discussion was chaired by The City Law School’s Professor Peter Hungerford-Welch.
There was also a panel discussion about sentencing young adults (those aged 18-25), featuring presentations from Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and Chair of the Scottish Sentencing Council, Dr Laura Janes of GT Stewart Solicitors and Professor Nathan Hughes of the University of Sheffield.
The day concluded with a free-ranging discussion on gaps in knowledge, which included an exploration of what works and what doesn’t work in reducing reoffending, how life sentencing actually operates, ambiguity in the so-called custody threshold, and how victim personal statements influence sentencing decisions.
The discussion, chaired by Steve Wade, Head of the Office of the Sentencing Council, featured contributions from Professor Nicola Padfield, Emeritus Professor, Cambridge University, Peter Dawson of the Prison Reform Trust and Professor Jessica Jacobson of the Institute for Criminal and Justice Policy Research.
Professor Hungerford-Welch said:
“The City Law School is unusual amongst law Schools in placing equal value on the academic and professional sides of law. This sort of event, bringing together academics and practitioners to talk about matters of great practical significance, is very much part of our mission as a School”.
Lord Justice William Davis, Chairman of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, said:
“The Sentencing Council places huge value on events such this. One of our responsibilities is the assessment of the impact of sentencing guidelines. Gathering together judges, practitioners, academics, government officials to discuss how our guidelines work in practice is enormously beneficial to the Council in meeting that responsibility. The presenters and panellists were at the forefront of current thinking in relation to sentencing policy and research. Their expertise was invaluable in leading discussion on issues of particular current interest for the Council.”
The Sentencing Academy’s Executive Director, Professor Julian Roberts, said:
“The Sentencing Academy was delighted to co-sponsor this important event which benefitted a wide range of stakeholders in the sentencing process.”