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New sentencing guidelines come into force

Expanded explanations, General guideline and new Arson and Criminal Damage guidelines


01 October 2019
New sentencing guidelines come into force

The Sentencing Council’s expanded explanations, General guideline and new Arson and Criminal Damage guidelines came into force on 1 October.

The expanded explanations add extra information to aggravating and mitigating factors to make it easier for courts to maintain consistency and transparency when sentencing (see illustrative video) and are now embedded in all existing offence specific guidelines. The expanded explanations do not change the factors in guidelines, but provide useful information in an easily accessible way to ensure the consistent and transparent application of factors in sentencing guidelines.

The new General guideline is for sentencing offences that do not have a specific sentencing guideline, and will also be used with the offence specific sentencing guidelines where some factors are not covered and overarching guidance is required. The General guideline replaces the Seriousness guideline which has now been withdrawn, and ensures that judges and magistrates in England and Wales follow a structured and consistent sentencing process for offences which are not currently covered by a specific guideline.

The first formal guidance covering all arson and criminal damage offences has also been issued to courts with the new Arson and Criminal Damage guidelines. The new guidelines will see the courts take full account of the harm caused by offences such as arson attacks on historic buildings or criminal damage leading to severe disruption of public services, and have replaced the limited guidance which existed in magistrates’ courts previously. 

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