Assault and attempted murder offences sentencing guidelines commence today (1 July 2021)


The Assault and Attempted Murder Offences (external link, opens in a new tab) sentencing guidelines published by the Sentencing Council come into force today (Thursday 1 July 2021).

The guidelines cover assault offences including common assault and attempted murder, and new guidance for assault on emergency workers.

This is the first time judges and magistrates in England and Wales will have specific guidance for sentencing offences of assault on emergency workers. The guidelines apply to adult offenders.

The new guidelines follow revision of previous guidelines. Details of the revisions made to the guidelines and the Council’s reasons for making them, are set out in the consultation response document (external link, opens in a new tab).

The new guidelines include

  • A new high-culpability factor of “intention to cause fear of serious harm, including disease transmission” in the common assault guideline
  • A new aggravating factor of “deliberate spitting or coughing” in the common assault and assault causing Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) offences guidelines
  • A new high-culpability factor of strangulation to include asphyxiation and suffocation in all guidelines except attempted murder
  • A revised high-culpability factor of “victim obviously vulnerable due to age, personal characteristics or circumstances” across all guidelines
  • A revised aggravating factor of “offence committed against those working in the public sector or providing a service to the public, or against person coming to the assistance of emergency worker” which provides for increased sentences for assaults on an individual providing a service to the public
  • A new aggravating factor for offence committed against a victim who is vulnerable by circumstances, which would include lone shop workers and workers in circumstances unable to escape an attack such as taxi drivers, is assessed at the highest level of culpability by the factor ‘Victim obviously vulnerable due to age, personal characteristics or circumstances’.

The full list of guidelines is shown below.