Chapter 3
Methodology

3.1We began our undertaking by devising a process by which recommended maximum penalties could be arrived at. This entailed nine steps as follows:

Step 1: The development of a quantitative tool to determine the level of harm caused to one or more pre-defined interests by the worst class of case of an offence.

Step 2: The testing of the workability of that tool on a sample of 30 offences.

Step 3: The application of the tool to all imprisonable offences covered by the review, in order to give each offence a total harm score and arrive at a provisional ranked list of offences according to seriousness.

Step 4: Where necessary, the modification of the harm score of an offence to reflect particular culpability elements as expressed in statute.

Step 5: The identification of any discrepancies between the seriousness of offences, as indicated by the provisional ranked list, and (1) existing maximum penalties and (2) judicial views of offence seriousness using available sentencing data, with consequent adjustments where necessary to the provisional ranked list in order to produce an adjusted ranked list of offences according to seriousness.

Step 6: The assignment of all offences included in the review to draft penalty categories based on the adjusted ranked list of offences.

Step 7: Targeted public consultation on the draft penalty categories (at this stage without proposed maximum penalties), with a consequent review of, and where necessary adjustment to, those categories.

Step 8: The assignment of proposed maximum penalties to each draft penalty category.

Step 9: A second round of targeted public consultation on the proposed penalties for each of the categories, in order to produce recommended maximum penalty categories and penalties.