Grim reading in new sentencing guidelines on burglary

Richard Garside
Thursday, 13 October 2011

Crumbs of comfort in today’s new guidelines on burglary from the Sentencing Council. The age of those convicted, or their ‘lack of maturity’, is listed as a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing. Drug rehabilitation, rather than prison, is recommended for those where there is a reasonable prospect of success (though committing a burglary while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also treated as an aggravating factor).

Overall, these guidelines make for grim reading. The sentencing range for domestic burglary is now six years, up from the four year previously recommended by the Sentencing Advisory Panel, forerunner to the Sentencing Council.

The recommended range for non domestic burglary is now one to five years, compared with the originally proposed one to four years.

The post-riot sentencing backlash also continues. Among aggravating factors that might justify a longer sentence is the ‘context of general public disorder’.

In short, these new guidelines signal an ongoing toughening of sentencing. It seems that a falling, or merely stable, prison population remains a distant prospect.