Consultation to Start on a Victorian Sentencing Guidelines Council

12 July 2017

The Sentencing Advisory Council today received a request from the Attorney-General for advice on the creation of a sentencing guidelines council. The request asks the Council to consult with the judiciary, criminal justice stakeholders and the Victorian community.

On 25 May 2017, the government announced its intention to create a sentencing guidelines council. Such a council would engage with the community and provide guidance to the courts on sentencing for specific offences.

This announcement followed the Council’s consideration of a sentencing guidelines council as an ‘aspirational model’ for sentencing guidance. In its 2016 report Sentencing Guidance in Victoria, the Council advised that a sentencing guidelines council, similar to councils in operation in the United Kingdom, warranted further consideration. Such a council might overcome some of the difficulties identified with both legislative sentence guidance mechanisms and court-imposed guideline judgments.

The Sentencing Advisory Council provides advice to the government about sentencing law and policy, among other functions. Unlike the current Council, a sentencing guidelines council would produce written guidelines for the courts to apply when sentencing.

To facilitate consultation, the Council will publish an issues paper later this year. The issues paper will examine:

  • the composition of a sentencing guidelines council
  • the role of the judiciary, and a judicial majority, on the council
  • how a sentencing guideline would be developed
  • how sentencing guidelines would apply to individual cases.

The Council will then consult with stakeholders and the broader community on this significant reform to sentencing in Victoria.

The results of consultation, and the Council’s advice, will be provided to the Attorney-General by 29 March 2018.