Draft Sentencing Guidelines on bladed articles and offensive weapons Contents


In this Report we consider three sets of sentencing guidelines published for consultation by the Sentencing Council. These are the guidelines on: possession of a bladed article or offensive weapon; threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon; and bladed articles and offensive weapons—youths.

The ‘threatening’ offences all carry mandatory minimum sentences of six months’ imprisonment for an adult or four months’ Detention and Training Order for a youth aged 16 or 17. In 2015, in response to public concerns about knife crime, similar mandatory sentences were introduced for second or subsequent possession offences. The Council’s analysis of court data indicates a steady increase in the use and length of custodial sentences for possession offences over the last decade.

The Council expects the new adult guidelines to increase the proportion of offences that result in custodial sentences but it has been unable to estimate with any certainty how sentencers’ behaviour may change. We say that we appreciate the difficulties in making such predictions, but the prospect of a substantial increase in the number of custodial sentences causes us concern. We recommend that the Council ask the Ministry of Justice to consider how any predicted increase in the prison population might be accommodated.

In summary, our other principal recommendations are as follows:

6 March 2017