13 May 2021

13 August 2021

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The Sentencing Council is issuing a new consultation on its proposed guidelines on sentencing sexual offences.

What is this consultation about?

This consultation seeks people’s views on a number of proposed amendments to existing child sex offence sentencing guidelines, and on a new draft guideline for the offence of sexual communication with a child.

Who should respond?

We would like to hear from anyone who might use the sentencing guidelines in their work; has an interest in sentencing or the criminal justice system or has knowledge and expertise in the field of tackling sex offending. We would also like to hear from anyone who could be affected by the implementation of these guidelines as a victim or defendant or who represents people who might be affected.

What do we want to know?

Following recent cases before the Court of Appeal, the Sentencing Council has decided to update the relevant guidelines to set out the approach the courts should take when sentencing cases where sexual activity with a child has been incited but ultimately did not take place.

The Council is also consulting on a new guideline for the offence of sexual communication with a child (section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003). This is a relatively new offence, with a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment, created by the Serious Crime Act 2015 and in force since 2017.

Following the findings of the 2018 assessment of the sexual offences guidelines, the Council is also consulting on some minor amendments to several guidelines to provide extra clarity on some harm and culpability factors. Finally, the Council is consulting on minor changes to the wording of its guidance on sentencing historic sex cases better to reflect Court of Appeal case law.

The Council would like to hear your views on:

  • the addition of principles and guidance to existing guidelines for situations where no sexual activity has taken place;
  • the addition of further explanations and guidance for sentencers across various existing sex offence guidelines;
  • the principal factors included within the new draft guideline that make section 15A (sexual communication with a child) offences more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence in these cases;
  • the types and lengths of sentence that should be passed; and
  • anything else you think we should consider.

You can give your views by answering questions on just the areas you are interested in or you could answer all the questions in the consultation.

How to respond

You can send your answers by email to Ollie Simpson at or you could use the online questionnaire, which you will find here.

When do you need to respond?

The consultation runs until 13 August 2021.

Which offences are covered by the guideline?

Related information