IPRT recognises the critical role of sentencing in the penal system.
Our starting point is that imprisonment itself causes a number of serious social harms, therefore imprisonment should only be used sparingly at the point of sentencing and the numbers in prison should be reduced.
As a key strategic goal for IPRT, we aim to promote the embedding and extension of the principle that detention should only be used as a last resort, while remaining committed to retaining and supporting the principles of proportionality and judicial independence in sentencing.
The principle of parsimony in the use of imprisonment is reflected in section 96 of the Children Act 2001, which directs sentencing courts to use imprisonment only as a last resort. IPRT believes that this principle should also be enshrined in legislation for adult offenders and that there should be an onus on judges to exhaust all other options before imposing a custodial sentence. IPRT will be monitoring closely over the next few years how this principle is being applied in relation to the youth justice system.
In practice, we believe that greater transparency in sentencing can be achieved as well as better coordination between sentencing authorities and other agencies on the penal system.