Breach Offences

Closed 25 Jan 2017

Opened 25 Oct 2016


What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines for the courts to use when passing a sentence.

Why breach?

Guidelines are not currently available for all types of breach of court order, and there is variation in the format of the guidelines which do exist and in their scope. There are a number of breach guidelines which were produced by the Council’s predecessor body, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (‘SGC’) and some guidance issued by the Sentencing Council is available to magistrates’ courts in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines (‘MCSG’) but this is not applicable in the Crown Court.

A survey of 216 magistrates and district judges was conducted in November 2014, to gather information on sentencing breaches and the usefulness of current breach guidelines.[1] Respondents indicated that they would like comprehensive sentencing guidelines for breaches of orders, presented in a consistent format and clearly identifiable as a breach guideline.

The Council decided that breach guidelines should be issued as a single Definitive Guideline, with comprehensive, consolidated guidance for sentencers in all courts, which will ensure a consistent approach to sentencing breach of orders.

The new breach guideline will contain guidance for:

  • Breach of a Community Order
  • Breach of a Suspended Sentence Order
  • Breach of Post Sentence Supervision
  • Failing to Surrender to Bail
  • Breach of a Protective Order (restraining and non-molestation orders)
  • Breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order and Anti-Social Behaviour Order
  • Breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and Sexual Offence Prevention Order
  • Failing to Comply with Notification Requirement
  • Breach of Disqualification from acting as a director
  • Breach of Disqualification from keeping an animal

We appreciate this consultation is extensive and covers a wide range of areas; respondents are invited to respond only to the areas of the draft guideline of most interest to them, if preferred.

What is the Council consulting about?

The Council has produced this consultation paper in order to seek the views of as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of breach offences.

However, it is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on sentencing these offences and not 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.

More information on the overarching issues and the context of the guidance is available here.

[1] The sample was self selected, and relatively small, meaning that we cannot generalise from these findings to the general population of magistrates and district judges. The findings do, however, give us an indication of how an engaged and interested group use the current guidance and their needs and preferences with reference to future guidelines.



  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Local authorities
  • Charities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Government departments
  • Judiciary
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Academics
  • UK policy institutions


  • Courts
  • Youth Justice
  • Criminal justice
  • Law
  • Parole Board for England and Wales
  • UK Law
  • Judiciary