The Judicial College has published an updated version of the Crown Court Compendium (originally published in May 2016 and updated Feb 2017). Part I provides guidance on directing the jury in Crown Court trials and Part II provides guidance on sentencing. This latest edition substantially revises the original version. As with earlier versions, it contains specific guidance on the sentencing of children.
The Compendium replaces all of the guidance previously provided by the Judicial College and its predecessor the Judicial Studies Board.1
The new Crown Court Compendium on Sentencing usefully sets out the court’s sentencing powers and provides specific guidance setting out the different powers the court has when sentencing children of different ages.2
The Compendium on Sentencing will be a helpful reference tool for judges and practitioners, however, it should always be used in conjunction with the Sentencing Council’s Overarching Principles – Sentencing Youths which sets out the relevant considerations when sentencing children and the different approach to be taken.
The Compendium also overlooks two important principles:
- The Crown Court must remit children to the youth court for sentence unless it is “undesirable” (with the exception of homicide offences).3 “In considering whether remittal is ‘undesirable’, a court should balance the need for expertise in the sentencing of young offenders with the benefits of sentence being imposed by the court which had determined guilt.”4
- The guidance omits to mention that Crown Court judges can impose referral orders on children. Although the compulsory referral conditions do not apply, a judge in the Crown Court has the option to impose a referral order by exercising their powers to sit as a district judge.5
- The ‘Specimen Directions to the Jury’ in the Crown Court Bench Book published in March 2010; the Companion to the Bench Book published in October 2011; and part II of the Companion, dealing with sentencing, published in January 2013. (back)
- See Judiciary announcement: Crown Court Compendium – updated June 2018 (back)
- Section 8(2) Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (back)
- Paras 2.15-2.16 Overarching Principles: Sentencing Youths, Sentencing Guidelines Council, March 2017 (back)
- Section 66 Courts Act 2003, also see Para 3.9 Referral Order Guidance, MoJ/YJB, April 2018 (back)