On 1 April 2023, a number of new and revised guidelines from the Sentencing Council will come into effect.
1. UPDATED CHILD CRUELTY SENTENCING GUIDELINES
Sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of child cruelty offences, including causing or allowing death or serious injury in England and Wales, have been updated and will come into effect.
The guidelines introduce a new ‘very high culpability’ level for the most serious cases to reflect new maximum sentences introduced by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 for these offences:
2. NEW SENTENCING GUIDELINES FOR SELLING KNIVES TO UNDER 18s
Two new guidelines for sentencing retailers convicted of selling knives to children will come also into effect. The two guidelines – one for sentencing organisations and one for sentencing individuals – apply to retailers who fail to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent the sale of knives to under 18s either in store or online.
The two guidelines cover just one offence of selling knives etc to persons under the age of 18 contrary to s.141A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; it carries a maximum of six months’ imprisonment for individual offenders or, in the case of organisations, an unlimited fine, and can be dealt with only in magistrates’ courts. The offence is prosecuted by trading standards departments within local authorities.
3. MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS TO SENTENCING GUIDELINES
Also coming into effect are amendments made to a number of sentencing guidelines used in both magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court, following the Council’s 2022 Miscellaneous amendments consultation. The majority of the changes were made in response to recent changes in legislation and others in response to feedback from users. They include:
clarification of wording relating to disqualification in magistrates’ court motoring offences guidelines and related explanatory materials; changes to the guidelines for criminal damage to take account of the legislative change relating to memorials; amendments to the wording regarding minimum sentences in bladed article, drug and burglary offences guidelines; and additional wording for the unlawful act manslaughter guideline relating to the required life sentence for an offence committed against an emergency worker.
Full details of the guidelines affected are set out in the Council’s Response to consultation.