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The Sentencing Code

posted 19 Feb 2020, 05:26 by Tony Cattermole   [ updated 11 May 2020, 16:04 ]
The following is a message received by the Home Office from the Ministry of Justice about their work on the Sentencing Code.  It will make a minor but not substantive change to the way specific offences appear in firearms law. 
 
The Sentencing Code is the Law Commission’s consolidation of legislation governing sentencing procedure which brings together the legislative provisions which sentencing courts need to rely upon during the sentencing process into a single Act. Once the Sentencing Code is commenced, sentencing provisions will be moved from where there are currently found in existing legislation into the new Sentencing Code.
 
There are minimum sentence provisions relating to certain firearms offences as well as a statutory aggravating factor relating to firearms which will be consolidated into the Sentencing Code, insofar as those provisions apply to England and Wales. However, the Sentencing Code will not consolidate firearms offences, nor their associated maximum penalties. These will remain in the applicable criminal law statute, and courts will use the Sentencing Code alongside them when sentencing offenders.
 
Minimum sentences for certain offences involving firearms that are prohibited weapons - current law is contained in section 51A of the Firearms Act 1968 (minimum sentence for possessing, purchasing or acquiring a prohibited weapon) and section 29 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (minimum sentence for using someone to look after, hide or transport a dangerous weapon) and extends to England, Wales and Scotland. The relevant provisions, insofar as they relate to England and Wales, will be repealed from both Acts and moved into section 311 of the Sentencing Code, leaving behind the provisions insofar as they relate to Scotland in the 1968 Act and 2006 Act.
 
Statutory aggravating factor for offences where a minor has been used to mind a dangerous weapon - current law is contained in section 29 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and extends to England, Wales and Scotland. The relevant provisions, insofar as they relate to England and Wales, will be repealed from the 2006 Act and moved into section 70 of the Sentencing Code, leaving behind the provisions insofar as they relate to Scotland in the 2006 Act.
 
The Ministry of Justice expect the Sentencing Code Bill to be introduced to Parliament in early March, and are hopeful that the Sentencing Code can be commenced on 1 October 2020, although this will depend on the parliamentary timetable. 
 
Some further information can be found in the attached slide pack which  can be viewed here >>>>.  A draft of the Bill (all 592 pages) is available. 

Derek Stimpson