Public consultation on Review of Sentencing Policy launched

Date published: 28 October 2019

The Department of Justice has today launched a public consultation following a major review of sentencing policy.

Consultation graphic

The public consultation paper has been developed through extensive research of approaches to sentencing, and highlights issues raised during engagement with partner organisations and other stakeholders throughout the Review. 

Department of Justice Permanent Secretary, Peter May said:Sentencing is an important part of the public’s view of the delivery of justice and confidence in the justice system.

We want to hear from the public on the important issues raised by the Review. 

“Over the course of the Review we have listened to key stakeholders, victims and offenders.  We have engaged with practitioners and colleagues in our neighbouring jurisdictions, and taken the views of sentencing experts.

“This is not a review about sentencing decisions.  Sentencing in the individual case is, rightly, a matter for the judiciary and the courts and it is essential that their independence is maintained.  However, it is our responsibility to ensure the effectiveness of the legislative framework within which individual sentencing decisions are made, and ensure that there is confidence in the process by which decisions are reached.”

The consultation process is seeking views on: 

  • the principles and purposes of sentencing; 
  • public confidence in the sentencing process; 
  • the current legislative framework for sentencing for certain categories of crime; 
  • the setting of tariffs for murder; 
  • arrangements for unduly lenient sentences; 
  • the use of community sentences; and 
  • the effectiveness of current sentencing guidance. 

The Department will hold a number of information and discussion events which the public are encouraged to attend;

  • 11 November Waterfoot Hotel, Derry/Londonderry
  • 13 November Fermanagh House, Enniskillen
  • 14 November Craigavon Civic Centre, Craigavon
  • 4 December Clifton House, Belfast

For registration and further details of the public engagement events go to

The consultation will close on 6 January 2020

Notes to editors: 

  1. The public consultation follows a review of sentencing policy which was commissioned by former Justice Minister Claire Sugden MLA.
  2. This is the first significant review of sentencing policy in Northern Ireland since 2005.
  3. Categories of offences for which sentencing within the current legislative framework were considered under the Terms of Reference of the Review were;
    -  crimes against older and vulnerable people;
    -  offences which may result in death, including causing death by dangerous driving;
    -  attacks against those providing frontline public services, with a focus on health service staff;
    -  hate crimes.
  4. Sentencing in individual cases is determined by the independent judiciary. Further information on Sentencing Guidelines for Northern Ireland can be found at
  5. The consultation will run from 28 October 2019 to 6 January 2019
  6. To respond to the consultation visit where responses can be submitted via Citizen Space or downloaded.
  7. If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please contact the Department by email at  or in writing to
Sentencing Review Team
Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division
Department of Justice
Massey House
Stormont Estate

8.  For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 028 90 378110.

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