To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effect on trends in the level of sentencing of pre-sentence reports not including the option of a suspended sentence.
18 February 2020
Following the Sentencing Council’s 2017 guideline on the Imposition of Community and Custodial Sentences, which noted the status of suspended sentence orders as a custodial sentence, guidance was issued to National Probation Service staff. The guidance instructed staff that suspended sentence orders should not be recommended as a distinct option from custodial sentences, when requested to deliver a pre-sentence report to the court.
Since the change in guidance, there was a decline in the proportion of suspended sentences in 2018. However, the determination of the most appropriate sentence for an offender remains a matter of judicial discretion, based on the offender before the court and having regard to sentencing guidelines. It is not possible to attribute the change in guidance to the trends in sentencing outcomes.