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New guidelines for public order offences published

Sentencing Council update

16 October 2019
New guidelines for public order offences published

The Sentencing Council has published new guidelines to be used by all courts in England and Wales when sentencing offenders convicted of public order offences, ranging from low level disorderly behaviour to widespread public disorder. The guidelines, which will apply to offenders aged 18 years or over, provide sentencing guidance for existing offences under the Public Order Act 1986. They come into effect on 1 January 2020.

The guidelines set a clear framework for sentencing and provide the essential factors that should be taken into consideration when determining the level of involvement an offender had in an incident and the impact of the offence on any victims. The guidelines also set out the aggravating and mitigating factors that should be considered before the sentence is passed.

The MA welcomes the newly published guidance, which will provide magistrates with useful assistance in responding to these cases. These guidelines cover a wide range of offences, including some of the highest volume offences seen by courts. It is therefore very positive to have a clear guideline for sentencers, relying on an evidence base to highlight some of the key factors to be taken into account.

The Sentencing Council has also published a response to the consultation on the Public Order Offences Guideline, which was conducted as part of the development of the guidelines. The MA response to this consultation, which raised concerns including the lack of detail in the definition of a highly dangerous weapon, can be found here.

The Sentencing Council’s response provides detailed feedback to all comments, which the MA welcomes. Even where MA suggestions were not taken forward, by explaining their reasoning, the Sentencing Council has given greater clarity and understanding about the final guidelines, which can only help ensure consistent sentencing.

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