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Sentencing data in Magistrates’ Courts

Published: November 2016

Aim

The Office of the Sentencing Council (OSC) commissioned NatCen to establish what sentencing data is already, or could be, available in magistrates’ courts and to explore options for future data collection.

Sentencing data includes any information which is used in making sentencing decisions.

The research was conducted to identify the most appropriate ways for the OSC to engage with magistrates’ courts to gather specific sentencing data to inform the Council’s guideline development and its evaluation role.

Publication

A report was published in November 2016. You can download it here.

Methods

A mixed-method approach was taken;

  • Court visits which included qualitative interviews with legal advisers, legal managers, deputy justices’ clerks, magistrates and district judges.  The visits also incorporated an analysis and review of legal case files on-site.
  • Online survey of magistrates’ courts.
  • Desk-based research, reviewing previous data collections.
  • Additional telephone interviews were undertaken throughout the lifespan of the project with stakeholders involved in the digitalisation of the magistrates’ courts for orientation purposes and to provide context to findings around digitalisation.