Proposals for sentencing offenders with mental health conditions published

Proposed guidance for sentencing offenders with mental health conditions and disorders was published on 9 April 2019 in a consultation launched by the Sentencing Council.

When the guidance is published in its final form, judges and magistrates in England and Wales will, for the first time, have a clear structure and process to follow when sentencing people with mental health conditions and disorders, and those with learning disabilities, autism, brain injury, substance misuse disorders and dementia.

The Overarching Principles: Sentencing Offenders with Mental Health Conditions or Disorders guideline, now in consultation, will help judges and magistrates assess how much responsibility offenders retain for their crime, given their particular condition and how it affects them. It will be used in conjunction with offence specific guidelines.

The draft guideline sets out proposed general principles for sentencing, including that:

  • The approach taken by the courts should focus on individual circumstances, because the level of impairment caused by any condition will vary significantly between offenders and some mental health conditions are not obvious.
  • The rights and needs of offenders should be balanced with the protection of the public, and the recognition of the rights and needs of victims/families to feel safe.
  • The courts should decide how much responsibility the offender retains for the offence, given the particular order or condition and the specifics of the case.
  • Courts should carefully consider all the facts in each case, including what is practically available, before deciding on the sentence.

The Sentencing Council is asking judges, magistrates and others interested in criminal justice for their views on the proposals in the draft guideline. The consultation is open until 9 July 2019.

Further details can be found here: