Blackmail, kidnap and false imprisonment consultation

Closed 24 Apr 2024

Opened 31 Jan 2024


What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines which courts in England and Wales must follow when passing a sentence. The Council consults on proposed guidelines before they come into force and makes changes to the guidelines as a result of consultations.

Why blackmail, kidnap and false imprisonment offences?

There are currently no guidelines for these serious offences and the Council felt that developing guidelines would be of benefit to courts.   

This consultation paper has been produced in order to seek views from as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of these offences.

During the 12 week consultation period, views on the draft guidelines will be explored with sentencers. Following the consultation, all the responses will be considered, and definitive guidelines published. The Council has also produced a resource assessment for the guidelines, along with a statistical bulletin and data tables showing current sentencing practice for these offences. These documents can be found on the Council's website.

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guidelines more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • the types and lengths of sentence that should be passed;
  • whether there are any issues relating to disparity of sentencing and/or broader matters relating to equality and diversity that the guidelines could and should address; and
  • anything else you think should be considered.

We would like to hear from anyone who uses sentencing guidelines in their work or who has an interest in sentencing. We would also like to hear from individuals and organisations representing anyone who could be affected by the proposals including:

  • victims and their families;
  • defendants and their families;
  • those under probation supervision or youth offending teams/supervision;
  • those with protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

It is important to note that the Council is consulting on sentencing these offences and not on the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.

How to give your views

The paper discusses each draft guideline section by section. You can give your views by answering the questions within each section (you do not need to respond to any questions or sections that are not relevant to you).

Freedom of Information

We will treat all responses as public documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and we may attribute comments and include a list of all respondents’ names in any final report we publish. If you wish to submit a confidential response, you should contact us before sending the response. PLEASE NOTE – We will disregard automatic confidentiality statements generated by an IT system.

In addition, responses may be shared with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.

Our privacy notice  sets out the standards that you can expect from the Sentencing Council when we request or hold personal information (personal data) about you; how you can get access to a copy of your personal data; and what you can do if you think the standards are not being met.

Age applicability

When issued as definitive guidelines these will only apply to offenders aged 18 and older. General principles to be considered in the sentencing of children and young people are in the Council’s Sentencing children and young people definitive guideline.


  • Legal professionals


  • Courts