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Burglary offences sentencing guidelines to be revised

|Sentencing|News

The Sentencing Council has today (9 June 2021) published a consultation to revise and update sentencing guidelines for domestic, non-domestic and aggravated burglary offences in England and Wales, following evaluation of the current guidelines (link) that came into force in 2012.

The proposed guidelines introduce new middle categories for both culpability and harm factors, to allow judges and magistrates greater flexibility in deciding on an appropriate sentence.

The Council will also update the format of the guidelines to reflect the stepped approach used in recent sentencing guidelines and to make some minor changes to wording and placement of factors. We are asking people for their views on the proposed guidelines. The consultation is open until 1 September 2021.

The proposed sentencing guidelines are for:

The existing burglary guidelines were the second set of guidelines developed by the Sentencing Council and came into force in 2012.

When the existing guideline came into force in 2012, it was not expected to result in any change in sentencing severity: the resource assessment which had been carried out, using the data and evidence which were available at that time, had concluded that sentencing was likely to stay at the existing levels.

However, the evaluations of the impact of the guideline (published in January 2016 and July 2017) found that sentences increased unexpectedly for non-domestic burglary when the guideline came into force.

At the time of the original resource assessment (which was only the second the Council had prepared), the Council’s methods for estimating the resource impact of a guideline were less well-developed than they are today. The Council was therefore limited in its ability to assess how offences would be categorised and sentenced under the guideline.

In developing this new guideline, the Council has considered the evidence as to the reasons for the observed increases in sentencing severity. This has helped the Council to understand the details of the offences sentenced under the existing guideline and the sentences imposed.

This has led the Council to the conclusion that although the aggregate impact of the guideline on sentencing outcomes was not predicted, sentencing practice in individual types of cases is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.

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