The Justice Committee has welcomed the Sentencing Council’s approach to devising guidance to sentencers on domestic abuse.
The new domestic violence Bill, which is likely to be published within the next 18 months, contains new offences for which there is currently no sentencing guidance.
The Committee said it supports the Council’s approach of publishing guidelines, then making any required changes once the relevant provisions come into force.
Court digitalisation also provides a long-awaited opportunity to strengthen data on sentencing, it said.
It recommended that the Ministry of Justice should require HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to identify criminal cases which are flagged by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as linked to domestic abuse, in order to highlight the “extent of the issue” and to “enable the Council and others to monitor the impact of the widespread desire to see such offences treated more seriously”.
The Committee Chair Bob Neill MP said: “These important guidelines are particularly complex due both to the nature of the offences concerned and their relationship to numerous other offences.
“Having looked at these inter-relationships we make some recommendations for ensuring a more consistent approach is taken so that the guidelines do not lead to unwarranted variations in sentencing.”
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