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Guidelines for sentencing offenders with mental disorders published by Sentencing Council


Judges and magistrates across England and Wales will have a new guideline (external link, opens in a new tab) for sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders or neurological impairments from 1 October 2020.

The new guideline – Overarching principles: Sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments (external link, opens in a new tab) – provides clarity and transparency around the sentencing process for this group of offenders.

It applies to adults who, at the time of the offence and/or at the time of sentencing, have disorders or impairments such as:

  • Mental disorders – conditions like schizophrenia, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Developmental disorders – autism or learning disability
  • Neurological impairments – acquired brain injury (ABI) or dementia

The guideline stipulates that:

  • the fact that an offender has an impairment or disorder should always be considered by the court but will not necessarily have an impact on sentencing, and
  • when assessing whether an offender’s impairment or disorder will have any impact on sentencing, the court should take an individualistic approach and focus on the issues in the case. Levels of impairment caused by any condition will vary significantly between individuals.

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