Public consultation on sentencing guidelines for firearms offences launched

The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation on sentencing guidelines to be used by the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts in England and Wales when sentencing firearms offences.

The consultation is aimed at judges, magistrates, legal practitioners and others interested in the sentencing of these offences. The consultation runs from 9 October 2019 to 14 January 2020.

The aim of the guidelines, which will apply to adult offenders in England and Wales, is to ensure consistency in sentencing and appropriate sentence levels for the unlawful possession of firearms.

Firearms offences are serious. Some offences carry life imprisonment, some carry sentences of up to 10 years, and some require minimum sentences of 5 years, but there are currently no sentencing guidelines in the Crown Court and only one for use in magistrates’ courts.

There are eight draft guidelines covering the offences below under the Firearms Act 1968:

  • Possession, purchase or acquisition of a prohibited weapon or ammunition
  • Possession, purchase or acquisition of a firearm/ammunition/shotgun without a certificate
  • Possession of a firearm or ammunition by person with previous convictions prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition
  • Carrying a firearm in a public place
  • Possession of firearm with intent to endanger life
  • Possession of firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence
  • Use of firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest/possession of firearm or imitation firearm while committing a Schedule 1 offence/carrying firearm or imitation firearm with criminal intent
  • Manufacture/sell or transfer/possess for sale or transfer/purchase or acquire for sale or transfer prohibited weapon or ammunition