Drug offences – consultation on new sentence guidelines

The Sentence Council has today announced they are launching a new consultation to introduce new sentence guidelines for drug offences.

Currently there are no Crown Court sentence guidelines for drug offences, the Judges rely on case-law for guidance on sentence, but there are drug offence guidelines for magistrates. The proposal seeks to ensure a consistent approach in both courts in sentencing for drug offences.

The new guidelines will very much focus on the offenders role within the offence and the courts will sentence based on: the defendants’ role in the operation; the quantity of drugs involved and the scale of the operation.

The proposals aim to give greater sentences for those who play a leading/organisational role within the operation but also to distinguish those who are at the lower end of the chain; for example, drugs mules who may have been deceived into taking their part. This is largely consistent with the approach currently taken by Crown Court judges but aims to ratify that approach into one guideline for each drug offence.

The new guidelines will cover all common drug offences such as: possession with intent to supply drugs; production of drugs; importation of drugs; cultivation of drugs and simple possession of drugs. The guidelines will be based on a first time offender having been convicted at trial. An offender who pleads guilty will be entitled to a discount in sentence dependant upon when they entered their guilty plea.

The new guidelines will send the message out to those who are involved at the top end of large-scale drugs supply; that they will be dealt with severely by the courts, in simple language – they will receive a lengthy custodial sentence.

The chairman of the Sentencing Council, Lord Justice Leveson says ‘we want to ensure that those who are responsible for the most serious drug crime receive the longest sentences, and that punishment overall are in ‘proportion to the offender’s role and the amount of drugs involved.’

Click here if you want to take part in the consultation.

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.