16 October 2019
New sentencing guidelines for public order offences published
The Sentencing Council has published new guidelines to be used by judges and magistrates in England and Wales when sentencing offenders convicted of public order offences, following consultation.
The new guidelines, which come into effect on 1 January 2020, apply to existing public order offences, ranging from low level disorderly behaviour to widespread public disorder.
The guidelines provide the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts with a clear framework to help ensure a consistent approach is taken to sentencing these offences. The guidelines will apply to offenders aged 18 years or over. They have been developed over a period of months in accordance with the Council’s usual procedures, which have included a public consultation and an analysis of current sentencing practice.
The guidelines cover the offences below, which are provided for by the Public Order Act 1986:
- Violent disorder
- Threatening or provocation of violence and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offences
- Disorderly behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offences
- Disorderly behaviour causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offences
- Offences relating to stirring up racial or religious hatred and hatred based on sexual orientation
The guidelines set a clear framework for sentencing and provide the essential factors that should be taken into consideration when determining the level of involvement an offender had in an incident and the impact of the offence on any victims. The guidelines also set out the aggravating and mitigating factors that should be considered before the sentence is passed.