Robbery: assessing the impact of the definitive guideline

The Sentencing Council has completed an assessment of the impact of the Robbery Definitive Guideline which came into force in April 2016.

The assessment found that after the guideline, which applies to adults only, came into effect average sentences rose beyond the upper limit of what would be expected from normal fluctuations in sentencing.

The guideline aimed to make sentencing practice more consistent and to ensure that robberies with knives and guns continue to attract the highest sentences. The guideline specified, for the first time, that judges should place all robberies committed with knives or guns in the highest level of culpability or blame.

The guideline replaced the 2006 Robbery guideline produced by the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) and reflects concerns about robberies involving knives and firearms. The Council is strongly of the view that sentence levels must reflect the serious social problem of offenders carrying knives. The Council is committed to revisiting the guideline in due course to further assess its impact.

The types of robbery covered in the guideline include:

  • Street and less sophisticated commercial robbery
  • Robbery in a dwelling
  • Professionally planned commercial robbery.