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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 68 and Schedule 9: Changes to powers to make suspended sentence order

385.Section 68 amends provisions relating to suspended sentences. Currently a court cannot suspend prison sentences that are longer than 12 months. The courts are also currently required to attach at least one “community requirement” to a suspended sentence even if they consider that no community requirement is necessary in the circumstances. (Community requirements are available to address issues of offender behaviour through treatment programmes such as alcohol or drug addiction and poor cognitive skills.)

386.Subsection (1) amends section 189 of the 1991 Act to enable courts to suspend longer sentences of imprisonment, namely those between 14 days and two years. The amended section also provides the court with discretion as to whether or not to impose community requirements. The section retains the current position whereby the sentence of imprisonment will not take effect unless the offender fails to comply with a community requirement or is convicted of a further offence during the period of suspension.

387.Subsection (2) provides that, where a court imposes consecutive sentences, the power to make a suspended sentence order is limited to cases where the sentence does not exceed two years in total.

388.Subsections (3) and (4) clarify that the provisions relating to the length of supervision periods (the period during which the offender is subject to one or more community requirements) apply only to those orders with community requirements.

389.Subsection (6) gives effect to Schedule 9, which makes consequential and transitional provision (see below).

390.Subsection (7) provides that the new provisions apply to offences committed before, and after, the section comes into force where the offender is sentenced after the section comes into force.

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