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Shorter sentences for drug mules: The early impact of the sentencing guidelines in England and Wales

Fleetwood, J; Radcliffe, P and Stevens, A. 2015. Shorter sentences for drug mules: The early impact of the sentencing guidelines in England and Wales. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 22(5), pp. 428-436. ISSN 0968-7637 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Aims: In February 2012, new sentencing guidelines for drug offences became effective in all
courts in England and Wales. An explicit aim was to reduce the length of sentences for drug
‘‘mules’’ and so make them more proportionate. Methods: This article examines their early
impact drawing on data from the Court Proceedings Database and the Crown Court Sentencing
Survey for importing/exporting a Class A drug. Findings: Overall, the guidelines have achieved
their intended aim. The length of the average custodial sentence for drug trafficking fell
following the introduction of the guidelines, largely due to taking defendants’ roles into
account. Notably, three-quarters of those in ‘‘lesser’’ roles received sentences less than four
years, representing an important change. Nonetheless, around 10% of mules received very long
sentences due to the continued use of drug weight in sentencing. Conclusion: The new
guidelines represent an internationally important innovation in drug policy reform.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.3109/09687637.2015.1011607

Keywords:

Crown Court Sentencing Survey, drug mules, proportionality, sentencing guidelines

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Unit for Global Justice (UGJ)

Dates:

DateEvent
21 January 2015Accepted
16 March 2015Published

Item ID:

20773

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2017 12:59

Last Modified:

11 Aug 2017 13:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20773

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