P, Regina v; Regina v Blackburn: CACD 22 Oct 2007

Whilst awaiting trial, P had offered evidence against others on other serious crimes. On conviction, the judge was supplied with a statement explaining his assistance. He now appealed sentence of 17 years imprisonment for assorted serious drugs crimes. Blackburn’s case raised similar issues.
Held: The sections sought to give a statutory framework to encouraging assistance to the police, but did not give any specific discount: ‘the discount for the assistance provided by the defendant should be assessed first, against all other relevant considerations, and the notional sentence so achieved should be further discounted for the guilty plea. In the particular context of the SOCPA arrangements, the circumstances in which the guilty plea indication was given, and whether it was made at the first available opportunity, may require close attention. Finally we emphasise that in this type of sentencing decision a mathematical approach is liable to produce an inappropriate answer, and that the totality principle is fundamental.’
The court explained the background to the 2005 Act: ‘There never has been, and never will be, much enthusiasm about a process by which criminals receive lower sentences than they otherwise deserve because they have informed on or given evidence against those who participated in the same or linked crimes, or in relation to crimes in which they had no personal involvement, but about which they have provided useful information to the investigating authorities. However, like the process which provides for a reduced sentence following a guilty plea, this is a longstanding and entirely pragmatic convention. The stark reality is that without it major criminals who should be convicted and sentenced for offences of the utmost seriousness might, and in many cases, certainly would escape justice. Moreover, the very existence of this process, and the risk that an individual for his own selfish motives may provide incriminating evidence, provides something of a check against the belief, deliberately fostered to increase their power, that gangs of criminals, and in particular the leaders of such gangs, are untouchable and beyond the reach of justice. The greatest disincentive to the provision of assistance to the authorities is an understandable fear of consequent reprisals. Those who do assist the prosecution are liable to violent ill-treatment by fellow prisoners generally, but quite apart from the inevitable pressures on them while they are serving their sentences, the stark reality is that those who betray major criminals face torture and execution. The solitary incentive to encourage co-operation is provided by a reduced sentence, and the common law, and now statute, have accepted that this is a price worth paying to achieve the overwhelming and recurring public interest that major criminals, in particular, should be caught and prosecuted to conviction.’
President of the Queen’s Bench Division
[2007] EWCA Crim 2290, [2008] 2 All ER 684, [2008] 2 Cr App R (S) 5
Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 71 72 73 74 75
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Sinfield CACD 1981
The appellant had admitted ten robbery offences and asked for 53 offences to be taken into consideration. A total of almost andpound;500,000 had been stolen. He had given a great deal of information to the police about a large number of serious . .
CitedRegina v King CACD 1985
The court considered the effect on sentencing of the co-operation of the defendant in providing useful information to the police. . .
CitedRegina v Sehitoglu and others CACD 7-May-1997
The defendants appealed their sentences, saying that the sentencing court had not sufficiently recognised the assistance they had given to the police.
Held: The appropriate starting point for sentence was 24 years’ imprisonment after a trial. . .
CitedA and B, Regina v CACD 23-Apr-1998
The two defendants appealed against sentences for being involved in importation of drugs. They said that they had assisted the police.
Held: The Court of Appeal Criminal Division is, in relation to sentencing, a court of review. Its function . .
CitedRegina v Z CACD 26-Jun-2007
The defendant appealed against his sentence for conspiracy to supply large volumes of prohibited drugs, the consecutive sentences totalling 18 years. The defendant had provided information to the police which had resulted in the recovery of . .

Cited by:
CitedMcKinnon v The United States of America and Anotherr HL 30-Jul-2008
The appellant sought to avoid extradition to the US. He had hacked into 97 US government computers. He argued that the punishment he might expect in the US was completely disproportionate to the offence, and that he had been misled into entering . .
CitedBarker, Regina v CACD 24-Oct-2008
The defendant appealed against the minimum term imposed on her under the 2003 Act. She argued that the court should have made allowance for the fact that she had made exceptional progress since arriving in prison.
Held: Caines established that . .
CitedRegina v Dougall CACD 13-May-2010
The defendant had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt in having provided inducements for the award of medical supplies contracts to Greece. He appealed against a sentence of twelve months imprisonment, saying that it should have been suspended . .
CitedAXN v The Queen CACD 27-May-2016
The defendant argued that greater note should have been taken on his sentencing to allow for the assistance he had given to the police after his arrest.
Held: The current accepted practice is that the text of the letter from the police to the . .
CitedLoughlin, Re Application for Judicial Review SC 18-Oct-2017
The court was asked as to the circumstances in which sentences passed on offenders who have given assistance to prosecuting authorities should be referred back to the sentencing court under section 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act . .
ExplainedLoughlin, Re Judicial Review QBNI 21-Apr-2015
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 13 March 2021; Ref: scu.260056