Pre-Sentence Report: An Introduction

June 14, 2021, By

If you have pleaded guilty to a criminal offence, the court may request that a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) is prepared. Having this impartial document can work favourably and put you in a good position when facing sentencing at Court.

What is a pre-sentence report?

A pre-sentence report is a document written by a probation officer following an interview with you. The report should be an impartial report that provides the court with information about you including your background, family, education, career and any responsibilities that you may have. It should provide the court with some understanding as to what led you to commit the offence, and how you feel about it now. They will assess your attitude towards the offending behaviour, for example, if you are sorry about it, and consider any risk you pose to the public.

A pre-sentence report will suggest the most appropriate sentence for the committed offence and make recommendations to the sentencing court. The court does not have to follow any recommendations made, but it is helpful to have this impartial report to work with.

The pre-sentence interview

If a PSR is ordered you may have a ‘stand down’ (oral) report which will be completed at court the same day the plea is entered. Alternatively, you will be provided with an appointment to see probation and have the sentencing hearing adjourned.

You must co-operate with probation, or it may harm the sentence handed down. The court can impose a bail condition that you cooperate with probation.

If you do not attend a pre-sentence interview, you may be sentenced without the benefit of a report. If you have pleaded guilty on a basis then it is important that you are aware of that basis, and are in agreement with it.

Cooperating with the probation officer who is conducting the interview and writing the report can contribute to a more favourable recommendation. In contrast, failure to answer questions or disrespecting a probation officer may negatively impact the recommendations within the report.

Before Sentencing

It is unlikely that you will see a copy of the pre-sentence report until immediately before sentencing when it will be provided to your solicitor, the court and the prosecution.

If the court is considering imposing a custodial sentence or a community order, a PSR must be obtained unless the court considers it unnecessary to do so.

You will be able to go through it before you are sentenced so that anything that you disagree with can be raised.

The report will not be read out in court, but the prosecution, defence or judge can make reference to it or ask questions about it.

How your solicitor can help

When reading through the report, if there is something that you disagree with, let your solicitor know so that the issue can be raised.

This is just one element of the process of a criminal investigation, and so you should be able to rely on your solicitor to flag anything that doesn’t look right.

If you are yet to contact a solicitor about an allegation, police interview, pre-sentencing or upcoming trial, there is no time like the present. Contact our crime team on 0161 969 3131 or fill in our confidential contact form and we’ll be in touch.