New definitive guidelines for arson and criminal damage offences published

5 Jul 2019 11:20 AM

We have published new sentencing guidelines for arson and criminal damage offences that will see the courts take full account of the harm caused by offences such as arson attacks on historic buildings or criminal damage leading to severe disruption of public services. 

The new guidelines introduce guidance for both magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court hearing arson and criminal damage cases and will ensure that they take account of:

The guidelines, which come into effect on 1 October 2019, will help to ensure that sentencing by judges and magistrates will be consistent across the whole range of these offences. Limited guidance exists in magistrates’ courts, but the new guidelines apply to all courts. They cover the following offences:

The guidelines acknowledge that harm can involve not only physical injury but long-term psychological effects, and that damage to property can be about more than just its financial value.

Judges and magistrates will also consider requesting reports to ascertain both whether the offence is linked to a mental disorder or learning disability in order to assess culpability, and whether any mental health disposal should be considered.

Sentencing Council member Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro QC said:

“The Council’s guidelines ensure that courts can consider all the consequences of arson and criminal damage offences, from a treasured family photo being destroyed to someone nearly losing their life and home in a calculated and vengeful arson attack.”

A press notice is available here.