News type:
Press releases

Published on:

18 March 2024

Changes to a number of sentencing guidelines have been published by the Sentencing Council following a consultation on miscellaneous amendments. 

The changes, which will come into effect on 1 April 2024, include amendments to the manslaughter guidelines made in response to recommendations in the Domestic Homicide Sentencing Review and the introduction of a new, dedicated mitigating factor providing guidance for courts on sentencing pregnant offenders and new mothers.

The changes to the manslaughter guidelines introduce references to coercive or controlling behaviour to reflect up-to-date terminology and a new aggravating factor, ‘use of strangulation, suffocation or asphyxiation’ to ensure that the seriousness of strangulation is not overlooked in sentencing and make the guidelines more consistent with those for assault.  

The Council has introduced a new mitigating factor, ‘Pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care’, in the majority of offence specific sentencing guidelines. The factor sets out what courts may consider when sentencing a pregnant or post-natal woman (someone who has given birth in the previous 12 months) and replaces the current guidance on sentencing pregnant offenders, which was part of the ‘Sole or primary carer’ mitigating factor. The introduction of a separate, dedicated factor will give more prominence to the guidance and provide more information to help the courts in deciding the sentence.  

Other changes the Council is making include:

  • amendments to the Fraud guideline to give more recognition to the impact on victims even where there is no or very little financial loss, and
  • amendments to the guideline for sentencing individuals for fly-tipping and other environmental offences to give greater emphasis to community orders over fines.

Sentencing Council chairman, Lord Justice William Davis, said:

“Annually the Sentencing Council consults on proposed amendments to existing guidelines.  The changes which will come into effect on 1 April 2024 reflect the responses to the consultation we carried out in the latter part of 2023. 

“The amendments cover a variety of issues.  In part the intention is to improve clarity in guidelines and to reflect developments in case law and changes in legislation.  The amendments also encompass recommendations in an independent report we commissioned into equality and diversity together with recommendations in the Wade Review of sentencing of domestic homicide.”

Miscellaneous amendments are made when the changes proposed by guideline users are substantial enough to warrant consultation but not so substantial that they require new guidelines to be drafted.

Notes to editors

  1. This is the third annual consultation on miscellaneous amendments.
  2. The changes to manslaughter guidelines are in response to recommendations in the Domestic Homicide Sentencing Review by Clare Wade KC published in March 2023.
  3. Other changes are in response to the recommendations in a report the Sentencing Council commissioned into equality and diversity in the work of the Sentencing Council and suggestions from people who use sentencing guidelines.
  4. Sentencing guidelines must be followed, unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so in all the circumstances of a particular case.
  5. The Sentencing Council was established by Parliament to be an independent body, but accountable to Parliament for its work which is scrutinised by the Justice Select Committee.
  6. Justice Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the Sentencing Council’s effectiveness and efficiency, for its use of public funds and for protecting its independence.
  7. Judicial Council members are appointed by the Lady Chief Justice with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor. Non-judicial council members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor with the agreement of the Lady Chief Justice.