9 December 2020
Sentencing guidelines for firearms offences published
Today, the Council is launching eight new sentencing guidelines to be used by the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts in England and Wales when sentencing firearms offences. The new guidelines will come into effect on 1 January 2021.
The aim of the guidelines, which will apply to adult offenders, is to help the courts deliver appropriate sentence levels for the unlawful possession of firearms and take a consistent approach to sentencing these offences.
Firearms offences are serious. Some offences carry life imprisonment, some carry sentences of up to 10 years, and some require minimum sentences of five years, but there are currently no sentencing guidelines in the Crown Court and only one for use in magistrates’ courts.
Analysis conducted by the Council in preparation for the guidelines suggests there are disparities in sentence outcomes for some firearms offences based on ethnicity (see the response to consultation, pages 29-32). The Council has taken measures in the guidelines to address this, including drawing sentencers’ attention to evidence of sentencing disparities in specific offences as an integral part the sentencing process. The Council is committed to continuing to investigate apparent disparity in sentencing outcomes across all offences and will take further action as and when there is evidence of effective measures that can be applied to guidelines.
The eight new guidelines cover offences 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