Practice Statement (Crime: Sentencing): LCJ 1992

1. Sections 32 to 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 come into force on 1 October 1992. They make radical changes with regard to sentences.
2. Remission is abolished.
3. Parole will affect only those sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and above.
4. Where the sentence of the court is less than four years the Secretary of State will be under a duty to release the prisoner after he has served one half of his sentence. Thus, where the sentence is three years, 18 months will be served. This is significantly longer than would normally have been served before the new provisions came into force. Furthermore, on release the prisoner will in effect be subject to a continuing suspended sentence. If between his release and the end of the period covered by the original sentence, he commits any offence punishable by imprisonment, he will be liable to serve the balance of the original sentence outstanding at the date of the fresh offence.
5. For determinate sentences of four years or longer the Secretary of State will have a continuing but reduced element of discretion on release. Prisoners will be released on licence after serving two thirds of the sentence. Whereas hitherto they became eligible for parole after serving one third of the sentence, they will not now become eligible until they have served half. The ‘at risk’ provisions following release will be the same for long term as for short term prisoners.
6. It is therefore vital for all sentencers in the Crown Court to realise that sentences on the ‘old’ scale would under the ‘new’ Act result in many prisoners actually serving longer in custody than hitherto.
7. It has been an axiomatic principle of sentencing policy until now that the court should decide the appropriate sentence in each case without reference to questions of remission or parole.
8. I have consulted the Lords Justices presiding in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and we have decided that a new approach is essential.
9. Accordingly, from 1 October 1992, it will be necessary, when passing a custodial sentence in the Crown Court, to have regard to the actually period likely to be served, and as far as practicable to the risk of offenders serving substantially longer under the new regime than would have been normal under the old.
10. Existing guideline judgments should be applied with these considerations in mind.
11. I stress however that, having taken the above considerations into account, sentencers must, of course, exercise their individual judgment as to the appropriate sentence to be passed and nothing in this statement is intended to restrict that independence.


Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ


[1992] 1 WLR 948


Criminal Justice Act 1991

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Cunningham CACD 1993
Referring to the 1992 Practice Statement on sentencing following introduction of the 1991 Act, Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ said: ‘The Practice Statement does not require an arithmetically precise calculation to be made. Its object was to give general . .
CitedUttley, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 30-Jul-2004
In 1995 the defendant was sentenced to twelve years for rapes committed in 1983. He complained that the consequences of the later sentence were adverse because of the 1991 Act. He would now serve three quarters of the sentence rather than two . .
CitedBlack, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice HL 21-Jan-2009
The appellant complained that the system for considering the release of a life prisoner did not comply with the Convention when the decision was made by the Secretary of State and not by the Parole Board, or the court. The Board had recommended his . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Sentencing

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.199963