Sentencing Council hires first comms chief

A newly formed body set up to increase public confidence in the criminal justice system has established its first comms department.

Helen Stear: new comms chief
Helen Stear: new comms chief

The Sentencing Council has appointed Helen Stear as head of communications, joining from the comms team at the Department for International Development.

She said: 'There is a lot of confusion about how people are sentenced, what a particular sentence means for the person convicted and the range of sentences given for specific crimes. The way sentences are reported in the media can add to people's confusion.'

The news comes days after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke promised to overhaul Britain's penal system, referring to the current prison population of 85,000 as a 'quite astonishing number'.

Stear will be responsible for ensuring that the introduction of new sentencing guidelines is communicated effectively, while also promoting awareness among the public regarding the realities of sentencing.

She has held previous communications posts at the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Social Exclusion Unit and the British Council.

The Sentencing Council is responsible for developing sentencing guidelines, monitoring their use and assessing and reviewing a wide range of decisions relating to sentencing.

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