It seems a long time ago since the Ministry of Justice issued guidance about the publication of sentencing information - see Ministry of Justice - June 2011 - Publicising Sentencing Outcomes (publishing.service.gov.uk).
The document stated that - "As a general principle, there should be a presumption in favour of publicising outcomes of criminal cases because this would help to:
• reassure the law-abiding public that the CJS is fair and effective, by publicising successes;
• increase public trust and confidence in the CJS;
• improve the effectiveness of criminal justice, e.g. by encouraging victims to report crimes and witnesses to come forward; and
• discourage potential offenders and reduce re-offending."
It was recognisedin the document that not all outcomes should be published. One of the principal exceptions was sentencing of offenders under age 18 (unless reporting restrictions were explicitly lifted).
Many sentencing outcomes - but not all - are now published and, in a recent development, some sentencing remarks are being broadcast.
As legal commentator David Allen Green noted last December - The publication of remarks is "a boon to the public understanding of law "- The boon of published sentencing remarks – The Law and Policy Blog (davidallengreen.com)
In July 2022 it was announced that some Crown Court sentencing remarks would be broadcast for the first time - Crown Court sentencing remarks to be broadcast for first time - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Broadcasting of sentencing remarks is now permissible under The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 (legislation.gov.uk)
Broadcasting will NOT take place for every case. The legislation states that recording requires the permission in writing of the judge and any recording must be in accordance with any conditions imposed by the judge.
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, hailed the move as a “very positive” step in promoting open justice.
Published sentencing remarks:
Some sentencing remarks are published on the Judiciary website. Publication reveals to the general public information about the charges against the defendant(s), details of the actual offences committed, the reasoning by which the judge reached the sentences that were imposed.
For a recent example see Sentencing Remarks: R -v- Arslan | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary where Mrs Justice Cutts sentenced Can Arslan (age 52) to life imprisonment for the murder of Matthew Boorman and imposed a minimum term of 38 years (less 248 days on remand).
Remarks not always published:
Recently, in the Crown Court at Manchester, sentences were imposed on ten defendants by Mr Justice Goose. Four of the defendants were sentenced in relation to conspiracy to murder and a further six were sentenced for conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent.
The convictions were reported by the Manchester Evening News - Gang GUILTY of plotting to avenge 16-year-old leader's murder in revenge attack - Manchester Evening News and the sentencing was also reported by the same newspaper - Jailed: The violent gang 'fixated' on revenge after the brutal murder of their leader - Manchester Evening News
Sentencing remarks have not appeared on the Judiciary website even though the case has attracted considerable public concern and some criticism from a Member of Parliament - Fury in Manchester as black teenagers jailed as result of Telegram chat | Crime | The Guardian and Teenagers unfairly jailed over chat messages, says MP Lucy Powell - BBC News.
The Guardian reported that, when sentencing the defendants, the judge commented that the charges were for conspiracy and said - "The defendants were not in a joint enterprise; they were each principal parties playing a full role in committing the offence of a criminal conspiracy either to kill others or to intentionally cause them grievous bodily harm.”
This was a very important point and, given the controversy over so-called "joint enterprise" cases, it would certainly be of benefit if the actual sentencing remarks were published.
12 August 2022