There has been limited research on the use of pre-sanction reports in Ireland and what impact they have on sentencing this far, according to the research of Niamh Maguire and Nicola Carr. Although, on average 10,000 reports are made by the Irish Probation Service each year. Time for a change! Their report, ‘Individualising Justice: Pre-Sentence Reports in the Irish Criminal Justice System’, was published earlier this year.

These pre-sentence reports provide background information on the defendant and the circumstances of their offending. They also include an assessment of risk of re-offending, and, where relevant, an assessment of risk of causing serious harm, as well as proposals regarding what might be helpful to the management of a community sanction and the rehabilitation of the offender.


The practice regarding pre-sentence reports provided by the Probation Service to the courts has evolved over many years, and the reports play an important role in the criminal justice system. The research report is an important step in examining the role and function of pre-sentence reports in sentencing in courts in Ireland and provides important insights and observations. It also points to specific subjects and themes that merit further exploration.


The main objective of Mcguire and Carr, was to investigate the role of pre-sentence reports in sentencing. They investigated the circumstances in which pre-sentence reports are used by judges, explored the construction of pre-sentence reports by probation officers and their interpretation by judges and looked at the correspondence between pre-sentence reports and judicial sentencing.

Click here to read the research report.

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