Local Crime - Community Sentence (LCCS)
LCCS is a national public education project run in partnership between the Magistrates' Association and the Probation Association.
It puts members of the public in the place of Magistrates and gives them the chance to decide the sentence for a case study crime and offender both before they hear from a Magistrate and probation officer and after.
Before the Magistrate and probation presentation, audiences are given a 'news article' that provides the headlines of a case. After reading the newspaper article and no more information, they are asked to decide whether the offender should go to prison.
Then a presentation about the offender, the circumstances and the options available to the court is provided, before the audience is asked what their sentence would be now.
The different case studies are designed to illustrate types of case that have all been regarded as serious enough to attract a prison sentence, but also suitable for a community sentence. They are varied to ensure the representation of disability, gender and ethnicity among offenders, as well as introducing sensitive sentencing issues, such as offending against the elderly and minority groups. The case study on a particular day is selected by the coordinators and presenters to suit audience interests.
Of 56 participants so far, 35 would have sent the offender to prison before the presentation and 16 not, but after the presentation only 10 proposed prison where 38 suggested a community sentence.
The process is helping to demonstrate the roles of courts and probation and increasing confidence in both. 70% of attendees felt that courts were effective at punishing offenders (15% neither agreed nor disagreed and 15% disagreed) and 70% of attendees felt probation was effective at preventing reoffending (21% neither agreed nor disagreed and 9% disagreed).
LCCS is now available across West Yorkshire after a successful trial in Leeds.