Mandatory minimum sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences apply to certain types of offending, categorised either solely by its type or by a combination of that and the offender’s previous record. In most cases, the court can depart from the mandatory minimum if a certain test is met. Until recently, the most common test for this was whether imposing the […]

Sentencing of youths

Children between the ages of 10 and 17 (inclusive) fall within the ambit of the youth justice system. The relevant age for sentencing is the age at date of conviction. Offenders aged 17 and under may be tried in the youth courts at a magistrates’ court, in an adult magistrates’ court, or in the Crown […]

Ancillary Orders

Ancillary orders may be imposed on individuals by judges or magistrates. Depending on the type of order, this can occur following either conviction or acquittal for an offence. This need for something for the order to be attached to, whether that be a sentencing exercise or an acquittal, is why the word ancillary is used. […]

Appeals against sentence

When someone is sentenced in the magistrates’ courts, they are entitled to appeal against their sentence to the Crown Court. From the Crown Court, a convicted defendant is entitled to apply for permission to appeal against their sentence to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) but is not entitled to appeal. In 2019, there were […]

Attorney General’s References

Where offenders have been sentenced for certain offences in the Crown Court and the Attorney General considers that the sentence imposed was too low, the Attorney General can refer the offender’s case to the Court of Appeal for the sentence to be reviewed.   If the Court of Appeal considers that the sentence imposed on […]

Community Orders

A Community Order is the most severe form of non-custodial sentence that courts in England and Wales can impose (as Suspended Sentence Orders are technically custodial sentences).   A Community Order should generally be imposed in cases too serious to be dealt with by either a fine or a discharge but not serious enough to […]

Criminal Behaviour Orders

The Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) was introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and came into force on 20 October 2014. The CBO replaced the Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in England and Wales as the primary tool aimed specifically at tackling underlying ‘anti-social behaviour’.   The CBO generally targets low-level but persistent […]

Custodial sentences

The most severe sentence a court in England and Wales can impose is a sentence of imprisonment. The use of custodial sentences is, to some extent, limited by the provisions of section 152(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which states that: ‘The court must not pass a custodial sentence unless it is of the […]


Discharges lie at the bottom of the hierarchy in terms of the types of sentence a court can impose and they take two different forms: an absolute discharge or a conditional discharge.   The absolute discharge is the least severe sentence a court can impose upon conviction as it does not require anything from the […]

Extended sentences

Introduced in their current form in 2012, an extended sentence differs from a determinate sentence in two important ways: firstly, rather than being released from prison automatically at the halfway point of the sentence, someone serving an extended sentence must spend at least two-thirds of the sentence in prison and can only be released from […]


The most commonly-used sentencing disposal is a fine. In the year to June 2019, 916,174 offenders were fined by courts in England and Wales, accounting for 78% of all sentences imposed.   Fines are most frequently used in relation to summary offences (the least serious category of offences which can only be tried in the […]

Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences

The Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence was introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, came into force in April 2005, was substantially modified in 2008, and abolished in December 2012.   They were introduced to enable sentencing courts to impose an indeterminate sentence (one with no automatic release date with release only available when […]