|Criminal Justice Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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Clause 155: Duty of court to have regard to sentencing guidelines
419 This clause places a duty on courts to have regard to any sentencing guidelines issue by the council.
Clause 156: Annual report by Council
420. The Council must prepare an annual report on the exercise of its functions, which it must present to Ministers, who in turn must lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament. The Council must then publish the report. Some leeway is allowed for the publication of the first report which can be published at the end of the financial year, following the one in which the Council was constituted (subsection (2)).
Clause 157: Duty to give reasons for, and explain effect of, sentence
421. This clause imposes a general statutory duty on courts to give reasons for sentence. In doing so, it seeks to bring together in a single provision many of the obligations on a Court to give reasons when passing sentence which are currently scattered across sentencing legislation.
422. Subsection (1) requires a Court to explain its reasons for deciding on the sentence to be passed but to do so in non-technical terms. The aim is to enable the offender and other interested parties to understand why this particular sentence was chosen. The Court will also be under an obligation to explain to the offender what the sentence requires him to do, what will happen if it is not done and any power that exists to vary or review the sentence.
423. Subsection (2) extends the obligation to give reasons stated in subsection (1) by setting out certain matters that have to be dealt with those reasons. Where the Sentencing Guidelines Council has issued definitive guidelines relevant to the sentence, the Court must refer to them. In the case of a custodial sentence or a community sentence, the court must explain why it regards the offence as being sufficiently serious to warrant such a sentence. Where the Court reduces a sentence on account of the tendering of a guilty plea, that fact must be included in the reasons, as must any other aggravating or mitigating factors relevant to the sentencing decision.
424. Subsection (3) excludes from the obligation to give reasons those cases where the sentence is fixed by law or falls to be imposed under the provisions of clauses 205 to 208 and sections 110 and 111 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act.
425. Subsection (4) provides the Secretary of State with an order-making power to confer exemptions from the duty specified in subsection (1)(a) and (b) and to allow the reasons for sentence required under those clauses to be given in the absence of the offender in certain cases. Subsection (5) requires a magistrates' court which passes a custodial sentence to ensure that the reason required under subsection (1) should be recorded on the warrant authorising the commitment of the offender and also entered in the court register.
Clause 158: Duty to publish information about sentencing
426. This clause amends section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, so as to require the Secretary of State publish information each year on the effectiveness of sentencing in preventing re-offending and in promoting confidence in the criminal justice system. He is already required to publish information on race, gender and costs in the criminal justice system.
Chapter 2 : Community Sentences for offenders aged 16 or Over
Clause 160: Community orders
427. Subsection (1) provides that a community order may impose on the offender one or more of the following requirements:
428. Certain of the requirements are subject to restrictions, identified in subsection (2). Subsection (3) provides that if the court makes a community order that includes a curfew requirement or an exclusion requirement, it must also impose an electronic monitoring requirement (as defined in clause 195) unless electronic monitoring is not available in the local area or if someone else whose consent is required (e.g. a landlord) withholds that consent. The court may also decide electronic monitoring is inappropriate in the case. Subject to the same provisos, under subsection (4), the court may impose electronic monitoring in conjunction with any of the other requirements listed above. Subsection (5) states that community orders cannot exceed three years in length, and the court can specify the duration of requirements within a community order. Subsection (6) requires the court to consider the compatibility of the various requirements it proposes to include.
Clause 161: Power to provide for court review of community orders
429. This clause enables the Secretary of State to make an order allowing or requiring a court to review the progress of an offender under a community order. The Secretary of State can also allow a court to attach or remove a review provision from a community order, and regulate the timing of reviews. Such an order may in particular contain provisions similar to those applying to reviews of suspended sentences, as provided in clauses 172 and 173.
Clause 162: Breach, revocation or amendment of community order
430. This clause introduces Schedule 7 which sets out procedures relating to the enforcement revocation or amendment of community orders.
Chapter 3 : Prison sentences of less than 12 months
Clause 163: Prison sentences of less than 12 months
431. This clause ensures that in general all prison sentences of less than 12 months will consist of a short period of custody followed by a longer period on licence, during which the offender has to comply with requirements fixed by the courts as part of his sentence. Subsection (2) sets out the minimum and maximum lengths of the sentence. Subsection (3) requires the court to specify both the 'custodial period' and the 'licence period'. During the licence period the offender is to be subject to conditions specified in the "custody plus order". Subsection (5) makes provision for the length of the custodial period, which must be between 2 and 13 weeks. Subsection (6) requires the licence period to be at least 26 weeks. Subsection (7) makes provision for consecutive sentences and limits the total term of imprisonment to 15 months. Subsection (9) provides that, in the case of a suspended sentence, the court need not specify the licence conditions that would apply should the sentence take effect at the point of sentence.
Clause 164: Licence conditions
432. This clause lists the requirements which the court may attach to the licence period under the custody plus order provided for in clause 163. Subsection (2) sets out restrictions which apply when attaching certain requirements and subsection (5) requires the court to consider the compatibility of the requirements it imposes.
433. Subsections (3) to (4) make provision for the imposition of an electronic monitoring requirement. Depending upon the other requirements which are imposed the court is either under a duty or has a discretion whether to impose this requirement.
Clause 165: Intermittent custody
434. Subsection (1) enables a court passing a sentence of imprisonment of under 12 months to specify the number of days the offender must serve in prison, and at the same time provide for his release on licence, subject to specified conditions, at set intervals throughout his sentence. Subsections (2) and (3) are interpretative provisions. Subsection (4) makes provision for the minimum and maximum length of the sentence, which like a custody plus sentence under clause 163 must always be at least 28 weeks but no longer than 51 weeks in respect of any one offence. Subsection (5) provides for the minimum and maximum amount of time the offender must spend in prison. Subsection (6) requires the offender to consent to a sentence of this nature. Subsection (7) makes provision for consecutive sentences and limits the total term to 65 weeks. Subsection (8) enables the Secretary of State by order to make provision about license periods that the court may specify. Subsection (9) enables the court to require different requirements to be fulfilled within different time limits.
Clause 166: Restrictions on power to make intermittent custody order
435. Intermittent custody may not be available in all parts of the country. Subsection (1) provides that a court must not make an intermittent custody order unless it has been notified by the Secretary of State that suitable arrangements are available in the relevant area. Subsection (2) requires the court to ensure that suitable prison accommodation is available for the custodial periods and that the offender has somewhere suitable to live during the licence periods. The court must consult an officer of the local probation board before making an intermittent custody order in respect of an offender. This is intended to assist the court in assessing whether the offender is suitable for intermittent custody.
Clause 167: Intermittent custody: licence conditions
436. Subsection (1) sets out the restrictions on licence conditions available for intermittent custody. Subsection (2) provides that subsections (3) to (5) of clause 164 (which relate to electronic monitoring of licence conditions and compatibility of licence conditions in the context of custody plus orders) apply to intermittent custody orders.
Clause 168: Further provisions relating to intermittent custody
437. Subsection (1) provides that payments under section 21 of the Prison Act 1952 are not available in relation to intermittent release. Subsection (2) gives the Prison Service a discretionary power to pay expenses for transport. Subsection (3) ensures that in respect of intermittent custody the standard discharge grant that prisoners receive when they leave custody is only available at the end of the last custodial period. Subsection (4) stipulates the point at which a person who has been temporarily released in pursuance of an intermittent custody order will be regarded as being "unlawfully at large". Subsection (5) creates an offence in relation to remaining at large after temporary release in pursuance of an intermittent custody order.
Clause 169: Revocation or amendment of order
438. This clause introduces Schedule 8 which sets out the procedure where the court decides to revoke or amend an intermittent custody or custody plus order.
Clause 170: Suspended sentences of imprisonment
439. This clause deals with suspended sentences of imprisonment. Subsection (1) enables a court which passes a prison sentence of less than 12 months to suspend that sentence for a period of between six months and two years while ordering the offender to undertake certain requirements in the community. The custodial part of the sentence will not take effect unless the offender fails to comply with those requirements or commits another offence within the period of suspension. The period during which the offender undertakes requirements is called "the supervision period" and the entire length of suspension is called "the operational period". Subsection (2) makes provision for consecutive sentences and limits the total term to 65 weeks. Under subsection (3) the length of time the offender undertakes requirements may be less (but not more) than the entire period of suspension, but each of the two periods must last between six months and two years. Subsection (4) provides that the supervision period must not exceed the operational period. Subsection (5) prohibits the court from imposing a community sentence alongside a suspended sentence (though a fine or compensation order could be imposed). Subsection (6) provides that a suspended sentence is to be treated as a sentence of imprisonment. Subsection (7) is an interpretation provision.
Clause 171: Imposition of requirements by suspended sentence order
440. This clause specifies the requirements that can be attached to a suspended sentence order. Subsection (1) lists those requirements. Subsection (2) sets out certain restrictions on imposing particular requirements. Subsection (3) states that where the court makes a imposes a curfew requirement or an exclusion requirement, it must also impose an electronic monitoring requirement (as defined in clause 195) unless electronic monitoring is not available in the local area or someone else whose consent is required (e.g. a landlord) withholds that consent. Subsection (4) provides for the court to add an electronic monitoring requirement to ensure compliance with certain other requirements. Subsection (5) requires the court to consider the compatibility of the requirements before imposing them.
Clause 172: Power to provide for review of suspended sentence
441. Subsection (1) confers a discretion on courts to provide that a suspended sentence order passed under clause 170(1) be subject to periodic review at a review hearing. Subsection (2) excludes cases where the offender is subject to an order that imposes a drug rehabilitation requirement that is subject to court review. A review hearing is conducted by the court responsible for the order. Subsections (3) to (5) specify which court is responsible for the order in particular situations.
Clause 173: Periodic reviews of suspended sentence order
442. This clause makes provision for what is to happen at a review hearing. Subsection (1) confers on the court a power to amend any community requirement of the suspended sentence order, following consideration of the responsible officer's report. Subsection (2) limits the power of amendment. In particular, the court cannot impose a new requirement unless the offender consents, but it can impose a requirement of the same kind (this is explained in subsection (3)). An offender's consent is also required before amending a drug, alcohol or mental health treatment requirement. The court may extend the supervision period, but not so that it lasts longer than two years or ends later than the operational period. The court may not amend the operational period. Unless the offender consents, the court may not amend the order if an appeal against it is pending. Subsection (3) provides that a requirement of the same kind means that it comes under the same paragraph of clause 171(1).
443. Under subsection (4), where on the basis of the responsible officer's report, the court is of the opinion that the offender is making satisfactory progress, it can dispense with a review hearing. It may also amend the order to provide that subsequent reviews can be held on the papers, and without a hearing. Subsection (5) provides the court with the power to require the offender to attend a review hearing where the court is of the opinion his progress is no longer satisfactory. Under subsection (6) the court may adjourn a review hearing where it wishes to deal with the offender in respect of a breach of a requirement under formal breach proceedings. Subsection (7) enables the court to adjust the intervals between review hearings. Subsection (8) is an interpretation provision.
Clause 174: Breach, revocation and amendment of suspended sentence order, and effect of further conviction
444. This clause introduces Schedule 9.
Chapter 4 : Further provisions about orders under Chapters 2 and 3
Clause 176: Meaning of "relevant order"
445. This clause defines "relevant order" for the purposes of this Chapter as meaning a community order, a suspended sentence order, a custody plus order or an intermittent custody order.
Clause 177: Meaning of "the responsible officer"
446. This clause defines who the responsible officer is. Under subsection (1)(a), if an order imposes a curfew or exclusion requirement but no other requirement, and if that curfew or exclusion order is electronically monitored, the responsible officer is the person responsible for the electronic monitoring (currently the private sector providers under contract to the Home Office). If an offender is 18 or over and under 25, he may be given an attendance centre requirement as the only requirement of the order. In these cases, subsection (1)(b) provides that the responsible officer is the officer in charge of the attendance centre. In all other cases, under subsections (1)(c) and (2), the responsible officer is either an officer of the local probation board, or for offenders under 18 at the time of the order, the responsible officer can be either an officer of the local probation board or a member of a youth offending team. Subsection (3) confers a power on the Secretary of State to amend subsections (1) and (2) by order subject to affirmative procedure (see clause 265(5)(a)).
Clause 178: Duties of responsible officer
447. The statutory duties of the responsible officer are set out in subsection (1). Where the responsible officer is an officer of a local probation board or a youth offending team member, he or she must make any necessary arrangements for the offender to fulfil the requirements of the order, promote the offender's compliance with the requirements, and take enforcement action in the case of non-compliance. Subsection (2) makes an exception for responsible officers who are electronic monitoring providers.
Clause 179: Unpaid work requirement
448. Clause 79 deals with the unpaid work requirement. It re-enacts, with some modification, section 46 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (which deals with "community punishment", previously called "community service"). Unpaid work is done on projects set up by the probation service in consultation with sentencers and the local community. These can include environmental projects such as clearing canals, removing graffiti, painting and decorating community facilities, working in homes for the elderly or doing shopping for the elderly. Under subsection (2) no offender can be required to do more than 300 hours of unpaid work or less than 40. The Bill increases the current upper limit from 240 hours. By subsection (3), the court must not impose an unpaid work requirement unless it is satisfied that the offender is a suitable person to perform work under such a requirement. If the court thinks that it is necessary to do so, it will first hear from an appropriate officer (as defined in subsection (4)). Subsection (5) provides that where the court is sentencing an offender for two or more offences, and imposes unpaid work requirements in respect of each of them, it can decide whether the hours of unpaid work should be served concurrently or consecutively. However, the total number of hours must not exceed 300.
Clause 180: Obligations of person subject to unpaid work requirement
449. Under subsection (1) the offender must perform work as and when required by his responsible officer. (The responsible officer assigns the type of work and the times the offender must do it). Subsection (2) applies where an unpaid work requirement is imposed as part of a community order or a suspended sentence order. In these cases, the work must generally be completed within twelve months. Subsections (3) and (4) deal with the situation where an offender fails to complete the unpaid work within that period of time.
Clause 181: Activity requirement
450. These provisions are based on the requirements as to activities at paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. Subsection (1) defines an activity requirement as a requirement that the offender must either present himself to a specified person, at a specified place, for a certain number of days, and/or take part in specified activities for a certain number of days. An activity requirement may include such tasks as receiving help with employment or group work on social problems. Reparative activities are a particular aim of this requirement. Subsection (3) provides that before imposing an activity requirement on an offender, the court must be satisfied that it is feasible to secure compliance with the requirement. Subsection (3) also requires the court to consult before making such an order. If the offender is aged 18 or over, the court must consult an officer of a local probation board. If the offender is under 18, the court must consult either an officer of a local probation board or a member of a youth offending team. By virtue of subsection (4), the court must not impose an activity requirement on an offender before obtaining the consent of any other person whose co-operation is needed. Subsection (5) sets the maximum number of days of activity at 60. Subsection (6) sets out the duties of a person subject to an activity requirement. The offender is required to present himself at a place or places specified by his responsible officer on the number of days specified in the order, and to comply with instructions given by or under the authority of the person in charge of that place. The responsible officer will tell the offender where he needs to go and for how many hours, and that he must comply with the instructions of the person in charge of the place. Subsection (7) describes where activities must take place. If the place is a community rehabilitation centre, subsection (8) requires an offender to present himself elsewhere, if the person in charge of the community rehabilitation centre instructs him to. Subsection (9) makes further provision as to the obligations of the offender when he is required to participate in activities. Subsection (10) defines the terms used in the clause.
Clause 182: Programme requirement
451. Subsection (1) defines a "programme requirement" as a requirement that the offender must participate in an accredited programme on a certain number of days. Programmes are courses which address offending behaviour, covering such topics as anger management, sex offending, substance misuse, etc. Subsections (2) and (3) define "accredited programme", "programme" and "the accreditation body". Under subsection (4) an officer of a local probation board (an officer of a local probation board or youth offending team member if the offender is under 18) must recommend that the specified programme is suitable for the offender before the court imposes a programme requirement. The court must also be satisfied that a place on the programme is available for the offender. Subsection (5) provides that the court must not impose a programme requirement on an offender before obtaining the consent of any person (other than the offender or responsible officer) whose co-operation is needed. Subsection (6) sets out the obligations of an offender subject to a programme requirement. The offender is required to participate in the programme as specified in the order in accordance with instructions given by his responsible officer. The offender must also comply with any instructions given by, or under the authority of, the person in charge of the programme. By virtue of subsection (7), a place must not be specified in an order unless it has been approved by the local probation board.
Clause 183: Prohibited activity requirement
452. Subsection (1) defines a prohibited activity requirement. The court can require an offender to refrain from participating in certain activities. For example, it might forbid him to contact a certain person. The offender may be prohibited from participating in specified activities on a certain day or on a number of days or during a period of time. Under subsection (2), before setting such a requirement the court must consult an officer of the local probation board, or, in the case of an offender who is under 18, an officer of the local probation board or a member of a youth offending team. Subsection (3) makes it clear that the court can make a prohibited activity requirement which prohibits a defendant from possessing, using or carrying a firearm.
Clause 184: Curfew requirement
453 This clause re-enacts, with some modification, section 37 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. Subsection (1) defines a curfew requirement as a requirement that the offender must remain at a place specified by the court for certain periods of time. By subsection (2), the periods of time must not be less than two hours or more twelve hours in any given day. The order might, for example, require the offender to stay at home during the evening and night hours. Subsections (3) to (5) limit the curfew period(s) for community orders, custody plus orders and intermittent custody orders, respectively. Under subsection (6) the court must obtain and consider information about the place specified in the order and the attitude of persons likely to be affected by the presence of the offender.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2002||Prepared: 29 November 2002|