Stage 8 - Monitoring and review
We must review each guideline from time to time. We have developed a staged approach to this, enabling us to react promptly to any unexpected or undesirable consequences while establishing a solid evidence base for longer term reviews.
For offence and offender specific guidelines, in the first year of a guideline’s operation we will monitor the application of the guideline through sentencing statements, media reports, internal court documents recording decisions not to follow or to depart from guidelines and, where appropriate, engagement with sentencers. This period of data gathering will focus mostly on ensuring there are no unintended consequences of a guideline.
After one year in force, we will review data gathered on relevant cases by the SCTS. We may also engage with sentencers, which may include focus groups, formal discussion papers, in-depth interviews, surveys and larger group discussions. This stage will consider, as far as possible, the degree to which the guideline has had the intended effect and identifying any unintended consequences or emergent trends as a result of the guideline.
After three years in force, we will review data gathered on relevant cases by the SCTS, as well as engaging with sentencers on their experiences of using the guideline. At this stage, we will publish a public review of the guideline’s operation which will detail the impact of the guideline over the medium term.
For guidelines of general applicability for the first year in force we will monitor the impact of the guideline in the same way as for offence or offender specific guidelines (see above).
Where guidelines of general applicability do not seek to alter practice, we will monitor their on-going effect beyond the first year in force through engagement with sentencers. Where guidelines of general applicability do seek to alter practice we will develop individual methodologies for assessing any impacts as appropriate.
As well as our own review timings detailed above, the High Court and Sheriff Appeal Court can also require us to review any guideline, and the Scottish Ministers can request that we review a guideline. In these circumstances we will take an appropriate approach to the review depending on the time the guideline has been in force, the circumstances that have led to the review, and the type of guideline being reviewed.