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Current Consultation

Our guideline consultation on the principles and purposes of sentencing for all offences closed on 27 October 2017. The responses to the consultation and an independent analysis  were published in early 2018. A report published in July 2018 set out the Council’s views on the key themes emerging from the consultation exercise, and how these have been taken into account in finalising the guideline.


More About the Council's Work

One of our main roles is to prepare sentencing guidelines for the courts. To do this, we carry out research and engage with interested organisations and the public.

What guidelines do

When deciding a sentence, a judge must take into account any sentencing guidelines which are relevant. If judges decide not to follow these guidelines, they must state their reasons in court.

Consultation & approval

When we prepare guidelines, we must consult the Scottish Ministers and the Lord Advocate. We have decided to also consult more widely, including with the public.

Following consultation, the guidelines must be approved by the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland’s highest criminal court. The High Court can approve a guideline as it is, or in part, and can make changes.

Types of guideline

It is up to us to decide what format the guidelines will take and what topics they will cover. For example, guidelines can be on sentencing levels, particular offences, or particular types of offenders. Guidelines can also include the circumstances in which they can be departed from.

Requests for guidelines

The High Court and the Sheriff Appeal Court can require us to prepare or review guidelines on any matter. 

The Scottish Ministers (the Scottish Government) can request that we prepare or review guidelines. We must consider their request, but may decide not to act on it -  in which case we must give our reasons. 

Assessing the impacts of guidelines

When preparing sentencing guidelines, we must also prepare an assessment of their likely costs and benefits, including the likely effect on the criminal justice system generally.

Your views

We welcome views on what topics we should consider for future sentencing guidelines. Use the form below to make your views known. 


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