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Terrorism offences sentencing guidelines published

Revised sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of terrorism offences in England and Wales have been published by the Sentencing Council following consultation.

The revisions, which will come into force on 1 October 2022, update the current guidelines – published in 2018 – and reflect increases in maximum sentences and other changes brought in by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021.

Revisions to the Preparation of terrorist acts and Explosive substances (terrorism only) guidelines include:

  • new guidance for judges sentencing offenders who meet the criteria for a ‘serious terrorism sentence’. This is a new type of sentence that carries a minimum penalty of 14 years’ custody unless exceptional circumstances apply;
  • new guidance and principles for judges to follow when considering whether there may be exceptional circumstances that justify a departure from that sentence.

The revised guidelines also include:

  • the Collection of terrorism information guideline which now covers offenders who view material over the internet or download it to use in a specific terrorist act, with a range of up to 14 years in custody
  • changes to the sentence levels of up to 14 years in custody in the Encouragement of terrorism guideline to reflect the legislative change which has increased the statutory maximum sentence from seven to 15 years
  • the Funding terrorism guideline which now includes factors relating to the extent to which the offender knew that the money (or property) will or may be used for the purposes of terrorism
  • changes to the Membership and Support guidelines which include increases to the sentence levels of up to 13 years in custody. These uplifts reflect the legislative change which has increased the statutory maximum sentence for both offences from 10 to 14 years.

Sentencing Council member, Mrs Justice McGowan, said:

“Terrorism offences are thankfully rare but they are serious and can cover a wide range of factual circumstances, making them difficult and sensitive offences to sentence. For this reason, the Council has ensured that the guidelines are kept up to date and include additional guidance for sentencers.

“These revised guidelines will ensure consistency and transparency in the sentencing of these offences.”

Notes to editors

  1. The full range of guidelines that have been revised are listed below:
  1. 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.
  2. Guidelines set sentencing ranges within the maximum sentence for the offence as set out in legislation.
  3. 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. 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. Judicial Council members are appointed by the Lord Chief Justice with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor. Non-judicial council members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor with the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice.
  4. For more information, please contact Kathryn Montague, Sentencing Council Press Office, on 020 7071 5792 / 5788 / 07912301657 or email
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