Judges given new sentencing guidance for criminals with mental illnesses and learning difficulties

Criminals with mental illnesses and learning difficulties are to be sentenced according to new guidelines aiming to determine their level of responsibility for offences.

Campaigners hailed a “big step” towards consistency in courts across England and Wales, but magistrates warned of a “lack of appropriate options” outside of imprisonment.

The Sentencing Council has launched a consultation on guidance that it said would “help judges and magistrates assess how much responsibility offenders retain for their crime, given their particular condition and how it affects them”.

The independent body said that for the first time, courts would have “a clear structure and process to follow when sentencing people with mental health conditions and disorders, and those with learning disabilities, autism, brain injury, substance misuse disorders and dementia”.

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