New sentencing guideline for domestic abuse in effect from May 2018

A new definitive guideline has been published by the Sentencing Council identifying the principles to be taken into account in the sentencing of domestic abuse offences. According to the guideline, such offences should be considered more serious than similar offences that take place outside the home due to the ‘violation of trust and security which normally exist between people in an intimate or family relationship’. The new guideline will be in use from 24 May 2018.

Three key points come out of the guideline:

  • Provocation will not be considered a mitigating factor in sentencing, except in rare circumstances;
  • The penalty for domestic abuse should be determined by the seriousness of the crime, not by the wishes of the victim;
  • Courts should take great care when the offender or victim requests a lesser sentence in the interests of any children, as the sentence should primarily be determined by the seriousness of the offence.

The guideline also explicitly refers to domestic abuse through methods other than direct contact, such as threats made through telephone, email, text, tracking devices and social media.