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Perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation

Published on:

30 March 2022

The Sentencing Council has published two sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation offences in England and Wales for consultation.

The guidelines will ensure a consistent approach is taken to sentencing these two offences and will make the sentencing process more transparent and easier to understand for victims, witnesses, defendants and the public.

Perverting the course of justice offences range from giving false information to police officers at a traffic stop to avoid prosecution, to fabricating evidence designed to incriminate an innocent person. When the new guideline comes into force, following consultation, it will provide the first guidance for sentencing these common law offences.

The second new guideline will update the limited guidance currently available for magistrates’ courts for witness intimidation offences, which include pressuring witnesses to withdraw allegations or witness statements or not to give evidence in court.

The consultation runs from 30 March 2022 to 22 June 2022. The draft guidelines cover two offences: Perverting the course of justice contrary to common law; and Witness intimidation under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.