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Government introduce bill to revamp UK sentencing

The Government has announced plans for a new sentencing code to be introduced in a bid to simplify and tidy up the current complex system associated with sentencing in the UK.

In 2014, the government agreed that the Law Commission should undertake a project to consolidate sentencing procedural law. They proposed the Sentencing Code, which will present the law in one place, in a more logical order, and in simpler terms.

Currently, judges have to content with over 1,300 pages of complex and conflicting law, which can make it difficult to apply the law consistently to cases and can cause significant delays to the justice process.

It is hoped that the proposed Sentencing Code will bring greater clarity to sentencing laws, reducing the number of errors made, as well as making sentencing hearings more efficient.

The Sentencing Bill has recently been introduced in parliament, it will be used to make the necessary technical amendments and remove historic, now redundant layers of legislation, to pave the way for the introduction of the Sentencing Code.

These amendments will include a sweep of sentencing procedural law, meaning that offenders convicted after the Sentencing Code has come into force will be sentenced according to the most up to date law, irrespective of when they committed the offence.

However, there will be exceptions to the sweep to ensure that no offender receives a greater punishment than was available at the time the offence was committed.

Justice Minister Robert Buckland said: “It is vital that judges have complete clarity when making sentencing decisions, so we want to do all we can to reduce the complexity of the law, some of which is centuries old.

“This Bill will pave the way for the Sentencing Code, simplifying the statute book and helping the public to better understand the sentencing process.”

 

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Gurjit Singh
As a member of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS), holder of the Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) qualification and duty solicitor for the Coventry area, I regularly represent clients in a wide range of criminal cases, including road traffic offences.

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