Enhancing Consistency in Sentencing: Exploring the Effects of Guidelines in England and Wales

J. Pina-Sánchez, R. Linacre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives The development and application of methods to assess consistency in sentencing before and after the 2011 England and Wales assault guideline came into force. Methods We use the Crown Court Sentencing Survey to compare the goodness of fit of two regression analyses of sentence length on a set of legal factors before and after the assault guideline came into force. We then monitor the dispersion of residuals from these regressions models across time. Finally, we compare the variance in sentence length of equivalent types of offences using exact matching. Results We find that legal factors can explain a greater portion of variability in sentencing after the guideline was implemented. Furthermore, we detect that the unexplained variability in sentencing decreases steadily during 2011, while results from exact matching point to a statistically significant average reduction in the variance of sentence length amongst same types of offences. Conclusions We demonstrate the relevance of two new methods that can be used to produce more robust assessments regarding the evolution of consistency in sentencing, even in situations when only observational non-hierarchical data is available. The application of these methods showed an improvement in consistency during 2011 in England and Wales, although this positive effect cannot be conclusively ascribed to the implementation of the new assault guideline. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2014


  • Assault
  • Consistency
  • Exact matching
  • Sentencing guidelines


Dive into the research topics of 'Enhancing Consistency in Sentencing: Exploring the Effects of Guidelines in England and Wales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this