A pre-sentence report is advice given to the court following the facts of the case, expert risks and needs assessments, including an independent sentencing proposal and additional relevant information.
They must be as objective as possible and exist to assist the judiciary with sentencing. The number of pre-sentence reports written in England and Wales has decreased in recent years – from 211,494 in 2010 to 103,004 in 2019.
This was an area of concern in the 2020 white paper, A Smarter Approach to Sentencing, which stated that:
“The purpose of a pre-sentence report (PSR) is to facilitate the administration of justice, and to reduce an offender’s likelihood of reoffending and to protect the public and/or victim(s) from further harm. A PSR does this by assisting the court to determine the most suitable method of sentencing an offender (Criminal Justice Act 2003, section 158)”.
The paper proposed that “further work is undertaken to build the evidence base on the impact that a PSR has […] on offender outcomes, sentencing behaviour and the efficient administration of justice”.
Following this, a PSR pilot began in March 2021, focussing on oral and fast delivery reports.
So, do reports matter?
The overall results show statistically significant evidence that those who received a PSR oral or PSR fast delivery in 2016 were more likely to successfully complete their court order, compared with a group of similar offenders who did not receive a PSR.
• 80% of those who received a PSR fast delivery in 2016 successfully completed their court order. This is higher than for similar offenders who did not receive any type of PSR (73%).
• 73% of those who received a PSR oral in 2016 successfully completed their court order. This is higher than for similar offenders who did not receive any type of PSR (68%).
These impacts on completion of court orders are based on estimates of what would happen if instead of receiving a PSR oral or fast delivery, the case had not received a PSR. This analysis includes PSRs prepared for both magistrate and crown courts.
These findings demonstrate that the requesting of a PSR oral or PSR fast delivery is related to the successful completion of a court order, and therefore it is recommended that these reports are requested and delivered.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819