Response from IDPC to the Sentencing Council for England and Wales Consultation on the Drug Offences Guideline

Mike Trace
International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
June 2011

idpc-sentencing The Sentencing Council for England and Wales initiated a consultation process in order to produce definitive sentencing guidelines for drugs offences for the UK in the future. In order to feed into this process, IDPC, in collaboration with TNI, held an Expert seminar on proportionality in sentencing for drug offences, on 20th May 2011, in London, UK. The seminar was an important gathering of international experts on the subject of proportionality and provided a space for fruitful and in depth discussions on sentencing experiences from around the world. A draft report of the meeting was sent to the Sentencing Council as part of the consultation process on 20th June.

application-pdfDownload the response (PDF)

The IDPC submission to the UK Sentencing Council focused on three main issues where we consider that significant changes should be made before the final guideline is published: (1) determinants of sentencing, (2) proportionality of penalties and (3) medicinal use of cannabis, with the following recommendations :

  • The need to distinguish more clearly between different actors in the drug market, not just in terms of the amount of drugs they are caught with, but according to their motivation and related actions.
  • The need to reduce the overall severity of sentencing for supply offences in the UK, which seem to be some of the highest in Europe.
  • The need to give non-custodial sentences to people who can demonstrate that they are cultivating or possessing cannabis for personal treatment of a medical condition.

The IDPC submission to the Sentencing Council was co-signed by a number of international experts who were involved in our Expert seminar on proportionality.

See also: Drug Offences: Definitive Guideline