Guidelines, Sentencing Severity, Thurstone, Time-series
Sentence severity has increased in England and Wales in recent years. The causes of the increase remain unclear. One possible explanation relates to the introduction of sentencing guidelines, which seem to coincide in time with the increase in sentence severity. To date, investigations of this hypothesis have been limited to simple exploratory analyses or to specific offences. We use a new scale of sentence severity-developed using Thurstone scaling and the participation of 21 magistrates- and time-series modelling to explore whether a causal effect can be attributed to seven different guidelines. We corroborate the existence of an increase in sentence severity; however, we do not find conclusive evidence pointing at the guidelines having caused it.