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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

May 9, 2005: ‘Manslaughter By Reason Of Provocation’: New Draft Guidelines

The Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) has published draft guidelines for judges dealing with cases where offenders are found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder, on the basis they were severely provoked. The draft guidelines have been subject to extensive consultation. They were drawn up following a reference from the former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and aim to address his concern that sentences in such cases should reflect the seriousness of the offence and the loss of life.

The SGC guidelines recommend that, in most cases, even the victims of domestic violence should expect to go to prison if they kill someone, but acknowledge that such offences should be treated quite differently to murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

The SGC proposes starting points for sentences of between 3-12 years imprisonment. Recognising that individual circumstances will vary considerably, the Council recommends that judges take account of the nature and length of the provocation suffered (including actual abuse inflicted by the victim) in setting sentences.

The Council acknowledges that women and men who are themselves – or whose children are - subject to continual violence may experience a “slow-burn” reaction. It also says that the use of a weapon may - in some circumstances - reflect the imbalance in strength between the offender and the victim, rather than be an aggravating factor.

Commenting on the draft guidelines, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, who chairs the SGC, said:

“This is a very difficult area in which to be prescriptive, as the individual, tragic circumstances of each case vary considerably. In responding to the call for guidelines in this area, we have had to strike a difficult balance between, on the one hand, recognising the sanctity of human life while, on the other, acknowledging the appalling plight of women and men who find themselves and their children trapped in abusive relationships.”

Council member, Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, added:

“We hope by publishing these guidelines in draft, we will be able to have the benefit of further views, before we finalise our recommendations. We will continue to listen carefully to all the feedback that we get.”

The SGC is an independent body comprising members of the judiciary, police, legal professions and those with substantial experience of promoting the interests of victims. It is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice, with seven other members from the judiciary and four members who between them bring experience of policing, criminal prosecution, criminal defence, and the interests of victims of crime. Judicial members were appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The non-judicial appointments were made by the Home Secretary.

Meetings of the Council are also attended by National Offender Management Service Chief Executive Martin Narey and by Sentencing Advisory Panel Chair Professor Martin Wasik.