Sentencing Council
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CONSULTATION GUIDELINES ON: Assault and other offences against the person, and Overarching principles: Assaults on children and Cruelty to a child

In consultation guidelines published today the Sentencing Guidelines Council has recognised the considerable range of harm caused to victims of violent offences.

One consultation guideline deals with seven commonly charged offences of violence, which almost always involve the infliction of harm (which can be temporary or permanent) directly by an offender, or an intention to cause harm to a victim even if harm does not if fact result.

A separate consultation guideline includes advice on the principles relevant to sentencing in cases involving child victims of assault, and also contains guidance in relation to the specific offence of cruelty to a child. Cruelty to a child has a wide-ranging definition and can include assault as well as other forms of conduct that cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the health of a child.

In making its recommendations the SGC received comprehensive advice from the Sentencing Advisory Panel (also published today), which consulted widely to reach its conclusions. The Council is proposing a different approach to sentencing for attempted murder to that advised by the Panel and full details are provided in a separate background document to support the consultation process.

As part of the normal consultation process, the SGC has sent copies of the consultation guidelines to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the Home Secretary and the Attorney General, as well as to the Constitutional Affairs Committee and party leaders in the House of Lords. The views of additional consultees are being sought in relation to the approach to sentencing attempted murder. The consultation closes on 2 November 2007.

Notes to Editors:

The consultation guideline is available on the SGC website ( ) along with:

• a copy of a covering letter being sent to consultees; and
• advice on the subject to the Council from the Sentencing Advisory Panel.

Printed copies of the consultation guidelines, the covering letter and the advice of the Sentencing Advisory Panel may be obtained from: the Sentencing Guidelines Secretariat, 4th Floor, 8-10 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AE.

About the Council

The Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) was set up in 2004 in order to frame guidelines to assist courts in England and Wales dealing with criminal cases.

Created by statute, the SGC and the Sentencing Advisory Panel are independent non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs. They share a joint Secretariat.

The Council is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, with seven other members from the judiciary and four members who between them bring experience of policing, criminal prosecution, criminal defence, and the interests of victims of crime. Judicial members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor: non-judicial members by the Home Secretary.

The other members of the Council are: Sir Igor Judge (Deputy Chairman); Lord Justice David Latham; Mr Justice Christopher Pitchford; HH Judge Peter Beaumont; HH Judge Michael Mettyear; Judge Timothy Workman; Malathy Sitaram JP; Anthony Edwards (Solicitor); Ken Macdonald QC (Director of Public Prosecutions); Chief Constable Peter Neyroud; and Teresa Reynolds (interests of victims).

Meetings of the Council are also attended by Christine Stewart, the Director of Law and Sentencing Policy in the National Offender Management Service, and by the Chairman of the Sentencing Advisory Panel, Professor Martin Wasik.

The Sentencing Advisory Panel

The Sentencing Advisory Panel is an independent advisory and consultative body which was established in 1999. It is now constituted under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which also established the Sentencing Guidelines Council to take responsibility for issuing sentencing guidelines.

The Panel submits its advice to the Council. The Panel offers advice on general sentencing principles, sentencing of specific offences as well as allocation (the choice of court venue – magistrates’ court or the Crown Court).

Chaired by Professor Martin Wasik, the Panel has 15 members. Details of current membership can be found at:

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