Scottish Sentencing Council publishes report on challenges of comparing sentencing across jurisdictions

"comparing sentencing across jurisdictions"

The Scottish Sentencing Council has today published a new research report reviewing the challenges of comparing sentencing across jurisdictions.

The literature review, carried out by a group of expert academics from universities across the UK, explores the challenges in comparing sentencing between Scotland, and England and Wales, as well as exploring the opportunities for evidence-led sentencing practice to learn from comparative studies.

The review finds that despite the relative similarity of the two jurisdictions, to date, there has been little criminal justice research directly comparing Scotland and England and Wales. Without comparative research employing a single methodology common to both jurisdictions, the review finds that policy makers must rely on trying to infer comparisons from individual, ad hoc studies in each of the two jurisdictions. This leads to difficulties in learning from best practice across the different jurisdictions.

The review also explores, in some depth, the different disposals available to courts in both Scotland, and England and Wales. The authors consider the challenges involved in comparing disposals such as suspended sentence orders in England and Wales and community payback orders in Scotland, and provide recommendations on how they may best be aligned.

It also considers two specific offences which are either legislatively identical or extremely similar in both jurisdictions in terms of available disposals and what these would mean for offenders. These worked examples provide an insight into the challenges faced by those wishing to compare and contrast sentencing responses to apparently similar offences.

The Council is grateful to the authors of this comprehensive research, which will be of great assistance in supporting its commitment to evidence based decision making and in learning from best practice across the world.

A short blog by one of the report’s authors, Prof Cyrus Tata, is available here.

The review was carried out by Dr Jay Gormley, Centre for Law, Crime & Justice, The Law School, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, Prof. Julian Roberts, PhD, Centre for Criminological Research, Law Faculty, University of Oxford, England, Dr Jose Pina-Sánchez, Associate Professor in Quantitative Criminology, University of Leeds, England, Prof Cyrus Tata, PhD, Centre for Law, Crime & Justice, The Law School, University of Strathclyde, Scotland and Ana Veiga, LLB, MPhil, University of Leeds, England.