Revising the sentencing guideline on assault – reminder to contribute to consultation

With the consultation on the Sentencing Council’s revised guideline on assault due to close on 5 January 2011, Council chairman Lord Justice Leveson is keen to remind people to take the opportunity to give their views.

The revision to the assault guideline aims to ensure that all offenders receive an appropriate sentence reflecting the harm they have caused to their victim and their culpability in committing the offence.

The ambition is to achieve greater consistency in the approach to sentencing for assault and to promote proportionality across the range of assault offences, so that serious offences are punished with appropriate custodial sentences, but offences of lesser gravity are punished at a proportionate level.

Lord Justice Leveson said:  “I am pleased with the level of response to the consultation so far and the support our proposals are receiving, but I want to encourage everyone with an interest in sentencing to give their views on our proposals.

“The draft guideline maintains existing sentences for the most serious offences, but we want to ensure that sentencing for less serious offences is proportionate.

“This means we are suggesting little change to the sentencing options open to the court for the most serious offences such as causing grievous bodily harm with intent, We recognise, though, that our proposals are likely to mean that fewer offenders should receive custodial sentences for common assault, an offence that does not require any injury to be inflicted.

“In addition, the proposals set out a number of significant changes in the approach to guidelines of this type which could apply to others we develop subsequently. For example, we want to focus on the offence itself, removing the assumption that guideline sentencing ranges and starting points are based on the first time offender. This would make them applicable to all offenders in all cases.

“We are also proposing a new decision-making process that sets out clear steps aiming to ensure a guideline which is easier for sentencers to apply, and easier for victims and the public to understand.”

Submissions to the consultation can be made by email or post to the Sentencing Council and must be received by 5 January 2011. All consultation documents can be found here.