Overarching Sentencing Guideline

1. Equal Treament

  1. Equal treatment is a fundamental principle embedded in the Constitution, and is therefore a vital judicial responsibility. When sentencing, the principles of fair treatment and equality will be inherent in everything sentencers do.
  2. To ensure equality before the law, a sentencer must be free of prejudice and partiality, and conduct themselves so as to give no ground for doubting their ability and willingness to decide cases solely on their legal and factual merits, as appears from the exercise of an objective, independent and impartial judgment.
  3. True equal treatment may not, however, always mean treating everyone in the same way. Treating people fairly requires awareness and understanding of their different circumstances, so that there can be effective communication, and so that steps can be taken, where appropriate, to redress any inequality arising from difference or disadvantage.
  4. Sentencers should be aware that the Judicial College (England and Wales) has issued an Equal Treatment Bench Book which covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to consider, wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.
  5. The Equal Treatment Bench Book can be found via the Judicary (England and Wales) Website here


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Stages of Sentencing Overview