Welcome to the European Group on Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making

The aim of the Working Group is to bring together scholars working in the field of sentencing and penal decision-making as well as judges, practitioners, policy officials and others in order to: share research; generate ideas; and to encourage interest in the field across Europe.

The Working Group seeks to: foster discussion and fresh thinking; stimulate research; encourage theoretical development of the field; and critical as well as comparative European work. Specifically the European Group on Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making is intended to: 

  1. Facilitate the collaboration and networking of scholars, policy officials, practitioners and others across Europe, including countries whose sentencing and penal decision-making processes are not well-known to international audiences
  2. Unlock the potential for cooperation among individuals and groups across Europe so that there is greater mutual knowledge and understanding of national sentencing systems and European-wide developments

  3. Provide a visible forum so that scholars, policy
officials and practitioners can discuss research, develop ideas, and disseminate knowledge to each other and also those in the policy and/or practice communities who might not otherwise be aware of that research

The Group is chaired by Prof Cyrus Tata, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime and Justice, Scotland.

There are now over 85 members from more than 20 different countries. Click here to view the list of members. As well as established academic researchers from countries whose systems are relatively well known, we welcome interest from emerging scholars, practitioners, policy officials and others, and those from countries whose systems are less well known.

Annual Activities

Currently, the Group runs two main face-to-face meetings: a stand-alone annual symposia – normally during April, and secondly a ‘stream’ of panels created by the Group at the annual European Society of Criminology (normally September).

Spring Symposia

The first symposium, 'Researching the Judicial Role in European Sentencing: Interactions and Dynamics', was hosted by Prof Julian Roberts at Oxford University, England.

The second symposium, 'Towards a European Sentencing Identity?', was hosted by Prof Grazia Mannozzi Università dell'insubria, Como, Italy

The Third Symposium, ‘The Nature and Contours of Trust in Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making’, was co-hosted in Dublin, Republic of Ireland at the King’s Inn by Tom O’Malley(Barrister and National University of Ireland at Galway) and Dr Niamh Maguire (Waterford Institute of Technology, Republic of Ireland) 


At the Tenth Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology (ESC) held at Liege, the Executive Committee agreed to accept a proposal to create a new Working Group on Sentencing & Penal Decision-Making. The proposal arose from two recent small European symposia held at the University of Strathclyde (2008); University of Leiden (2010); and a stream of five pre-arranged panel sessions (16 papers) organised for the 2010 ESC conference. The European Group is, thus, an official Working Group of the European Society of Criminology.

If you would like to apply to join the European Group on Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making please click Join Us.

'Cultures of Sentencing' European Conference, Prague 30-31 May 2019

Please see the call for participation and programme.

'European Symposium on Individualisation' 19-20 April 2018

Please see the Programme & Attendees and Abstracts          

Reducing the Use of Imprisonment in Sentencing & Penal Decision-Making: European Conference.' Edinburgh 8-9 June 2017

See the conference programme here.

ESC Conference Stream on Sentencing & Penal Decision-Making, Cardiff September 2017

Please see the programme.