In 2010, the Sentencing Council was established and one of its primary responsibilities is to produce sentencing guidelines for courts to use when sentencing offenders.
These guidelines can either be offence-specific (e.g. the guideline for people convicted of burglary) or more general, applying to offenders regardless of the specific offence they are to be sentenced for (e.g. the guideline for the reduction for a guilty plea).
When a court is sentencing an offender for an offence committed on or after 6 April 2010, it must follow any relevant sentencing guidelines, unless it is contrary to the interests of justice to do so but if the offence was committed before 6 April 2010, the courts must only have regard to any relevant sentencing guidelines.
The primary purpose of the guidelines is to promote a more consistent approach to sentencing across courts in England and Wales.