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New mental health guideline published

New sentencing guideline


04 August 2020
New mental health guideline published

Following consultation, the Sentencing Council has published a new guideline for sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders and neurological impairments.

The ‘Overarching principles: Sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments’ guideline applies when sentencing adults who at the time of the offence and/or at the time of sentencing have any disorders or impairments such as:

  • Mental disorders – conditions like schizophrenia, depression or post traumatic stress disorder
  • Developmental disorders – autism or learning disability
  • Neurological impairments – acquired brain injury or dementia
     

The guideline stipulates that, when assessing whether an offender’s impairment or disorder will have any impact on sentencing, the court should take an individualistic approach. The fact that an offender has an impairment or disorders should always be considered by the court, but it will not necessarily have an impact on sentencing. The guideline outlines factors the courts should consider, which include:

  • Whether culpability may be reduced if an offender was at the time of the offence suffering from an impairment
  • If there is sufficient connection between the offender’s impairment or disorder and the offending behaviour
  • Whether the impairment or disorder experienced may be relevant to disposal, in particular disposals under powers contained in the Mental Health Act
     

The guideline will come into force on 1 October 2020, and can be found here.

The MA response to the consultation can be found here.

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