Sentencing Councils and Victims


  • Ian Edwards

    Senior Lecturer in Law
    1. UEA Law School, University of East Anglia
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    • Senior Lecturer in Law, UEA Law School, University of East Anglia. Many thanks to Rosemary Pattenden, Julian Roberts and the MLR's two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts. I take full responsibility for the content, opinions and errors in the article.


This article explores the place victims have, and should have, in bodies that formulate sentencing guidelines, with particular reference to sentencing guidelines in England and Wales and the Sentencing Council's obligation under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to have regard to ‘the impact of sentencing decisions on victims of offences’ when devising guidelines. The issues are situated in political and penological contexts; the place of victims in sentencing commissions or advisory bodies in the USA, England and Australia is analysed and the meaning and significance of the Sentencing Council's obligation towards victims is considered, relating the specific obligation to broader issues concerning the place of victims within bodies that formulate sentencing guidelines. While incorporating victims within sentencing commissions might undermine commissions’ aims, it can play an important role in helping to boost public confidence in criminal justice, a touchstone for all western governments’ criminal justice policies.