Extended presumption against short sentences: monitoring information July 2019 – December 2019

This bulletin provides information to monitor the effects of the implementation of the Extension to the Presumption Against Short Sentences (PASS).

Offences subject to the extended presumption

Only offences committed on or after 4 July 2019 are subject to the legislation extending the presumption against short sentences to custodial sentences of 12 months or less. Only 17% of the 42,000 cases disposed of in Scottish Courts since July 2019 relate to offences committed on or after 4 July. Therefore, the majority of offences disposed of since 4 July are not subject to the presumption.

In the two full years preceding the implementation of the extended presumption, the median time between an offence being committed and disposed of in the Sheriff Summary court was just under six months. The corresponding figure was 10 months in the Sheriff Solemn court and 16 months in the High Court. It will therefore take some time for all offences committed after 4 July 2019 to be disposed of in court. It is likely that the small number of cases relating to offences committed after 4 July that have been disposed of in court are not representative of all the offences committed since 4 July. Relying solely on the outcomes for these offences may lead to incorrect or biased conclusions being drawn.

This initial report on the effects of the presumption focusses on all offences disposed of by the courts since the implementation of the presumption on 4 July 2019. Each further edition of this report (see future reporting) will include additional offences which were subject to the presumption and have made their way through the court process, therefore making it more likely that conclusions can be drawn about the specific effects of the presumption. A greater number of disposals will also allow sub-group analysis (e.g. court type, offence aggravators, etc) to be carried out in the future.


Email: justice_analysts@gov.scot

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