Police and Crime Commissioners regularly receive national up-dates about various government proposals, legislation and consultations which are open to the public.
I would like to encourage you to provide your views and comments on the consultations of your interest. Your views and comments are very important as they help to inform the changes in legislation, draft guidelines etc.
This call for evidence is part of a response to evidence the Department of Transport has compiled. Prior to 2010 the UK had year on year reductions in the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads. Since then the numbers of casualties have plateaued and further reductions have not been achieved. In addition, the environment in which we have sought to continue to reduce casualties has changed - road use and type of users have changed and we need to adapt to respond to the challenges those present.
Another major environmental change has come about because of developments in technology. Vehicles have become inherently safer with more warning systems alerting the driver to maintenance issues and growing safety focused automation and driver assistance systems. At the same time advances in car infotainment systems and mobile phone technology mean that there are increasing sources of potential distraction for drivers.
All this is set against a background of increasing traffic volumes leading to the economic and environmental threats posed by the ever-present threat of increasing congestion.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has engaged closely with Wiltshire Police and partners from Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Highways England in order to prepare and submit the below response:
The Sentencing Council launched a consultation on a revised guideline for Assault offences which was opened until 15 September 2020. The consultation was seeking views on seven sentencing guidelines for a range of assault offences.
The Sentencing Council's Assault Definitive Guidelinewas the first guideline developed by the Sentencing Council and came into force in 2011.
The Council carried out an evaluation of the guideline and published its assessment in 2015. The evaluation identified that, for some offences, the impact of the guidelines was not as had been anticipated, and that some factors included in the guidelines had given rise to interpretation and application issues.
As a result of the evaluation findings, the Council decided to review the guideline to identify the causes of the unintended impacts and any action that may be required to address these.
As well as including revised guidance for nearly all offences included in the existing guideline, a guideline for Assaults on Emergency Workers has been included to reflect the 2018 legislative provisions which introduced increased sentences for assaults on Emergency Workers.
The Council also decided to revise the Attempted Murder Definitive Guidelinedeveloped by its predecessor body the Sentencing Guidelines Council to update the guidance, and have included this in the revised package of guidelines
The Sentencing Council launched a consultation on drug offences which ran until 7 May 2020.
The consultation paper seeks views on five revised sentencing guidelines for offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA) and four new guidelines for offences under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (PSA).
The current guidelines for offences under the MDA came into force in February 2012 and cover offences of importation/ exportation; supply/ possession with intent to supply; production/ cultivation; permitting premises to be used; and possession of a controlled drug. The Council carried out an evaluation of the guidelines in 2017-18 which found that the guidelines had led to some small unanticipated changes in sentencing severity. The evaluation also found some evidence for an increase in the seriousness of the offences coming before the courts, and evidence of changes in the nature of the drug market and drug offending.
There have also been significant legislative changes since the current guidelines were published, with the introduction of the PSA 2016. This Act created new offences similar to several offences under the MDA. The main difference between the MDA and PSA offences is that there is no list of 'psychoactive substances' mirroring the list of controlled drugs under the MDA. Instead a psychoactive substance is defined in legislation by the effect it has on the user. The other key difference is that the statutory maximum penalties for the PSA offences are lower than those for their MDA counterparts.
For these reasons the Council has sought to develop a comprehensive and up to date package of drug guidelines.
The Sentencing Council launched a consultation on changes to the Magistrates' Courts Sentencing Guidelines which was opened until 15 April 2020.
The Council has received suggestions from guideline users in magistrates' courts on improvements that could usefully be made to guidelines and the explanatory materials that accompany them. The Council has considered these helpful suggestions and has produced a short consultation paper in order to seek the views of guideline users on the proposals.
The proposed changes relate chiefly to the Magistrates' Courts Sentencing Guidelines (MCSG) but may also impact on sentencing in the Crown Court for breach of a community order.
The proposals are for minor changes to the following guidelines:
Drive whilst disqualified
Breach of a community order
There are proposed changes to the following sections of the explanatory materials to the MCSG:
Fines and financial orders:
Approach to the assessment of fines
Assessment of financial circumstances
Road traffic offences - disqualification
'Totting up' disqualification
There is also a proposal to add a reference and link to the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB) to each page of the explanatory materials.
I welcome the draft sentencing guidelines the Sentencing Council are proposing to issue for the most commonly sentenced firearms offences. Currently, there is only one sentencing guideline for firearms offences: that of carrying a firearm in a public place which is included in the Magistrates Courts Sentencing Guidelines. There are no sentencing guidelines for firearms offences for use in the Crown Court.
The Sentencing Council has produced its consultation paper in order to seek the views of as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of firearms offences.
The closing date for the consultation exercise was: 14 January 2020.