Magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines

Closed 11 Aug 2016

Opened 19 May 2016


The Sentencing Council is consulting on draft guidelines for a group of summary offences covered by the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines (MCSG) and is seeking the views of people interested in criminal sentencing.

Following consultation, when the revised guidelines are produced, they will apply to all offenders aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after the date it comes into force, regardless of the date of the offence.

The current MCSG  were last fully updated in 2008 by the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC). The current version covers both summary and either-way offences. 

The approach of the SGC guidelines is now out of date as a result of the introduction of the Sentencing Council guidelines which all use a standard approach, regardless of the type of offence being considered.

The Sentencing Council is therefore reviewing the existing guidelines, starting initially with the existing summary offences. These have been converted into Sentencing Council format. 

The Council’s objective is for all sentencing guidelines to follow a single, uniform format for consistency. Although the proposals take account of changes to legislation and other relevant factors, they are not intended to result in significant changes to sentencing levels or existing sentencing practice.

The Council is consulting on the draft guidelines for the following offences only:

  • Alcohol sale offences - Licensing Act 2003, s.141; s.146; s.147
  • Animal cruelty - Animal Welfare Act 2006, ss.4, 8 and 9
  • Careless driving - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3 
  • Communication network offences - Communications Act 2003, s.127 (1)
  • Drive whilst Disqualified - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.103
  • Drugs – fail to attend/remain for initial assessment -Drugs Act 2005, s.12
  • Drugs – fail/refuse to provide a sample - Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, s.63B
  • Drunk and disorderly in a public place - Criminal Justice Act 1967, s.91
  • Excess alcohol (drive/attempt) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5 (1) (a)
  • Excess alcohol (in charge) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5 (1) (b)
  • Fail to provide specimen for analysis (drive/attempt) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7 (6)
  • Fail to provide specimen for analysis (in charge) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7 (6) 
  • Fail to stop/report road accident - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.170 (4)
  • Football related offences - Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985, ss.2 (1) and 2(2), Football Offences Act 1991, ss.2, 3 and 4 and Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s.166
  • No insurance - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.143
  • Obstruct/resist a police constable in execution of duty - Police Act 1996, s.89 (2)
  • Railway fare evasion - Regulation of Railways Act 1889, ss.5 (1) and 5(3)
  • School non-attendance - Education Act 1996, ss.444 (1) and 444(1A)
  • Sexual activity in a public lavatory - Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.71
  • Speeding - Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.89 (10)
  • Taxi Touting/soliciting for hire - Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s.167
  • TV licence payment evasion - Communications Act 2003, s.363
  • Unfit through drink or drugs (drive/attempt) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4 (1)
  • Unfit through drink or drugs (in charge) - Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4 (2)
  • Vehicle interference - Criminal Attempts Act 1981, s.9
  • Vehicle taking, without consent - Theft Act 1968, s.12


The Council is not consulting about other guidelines in the MCSG including the road traffic table (which will continue to be published in its current format), new offences or about the explanatory materials to the MCSG. Neither is the Council consulting about the legislation creating these offences.

The Council has a statutory duty to produce a resource assessment which considers the likely effect of its guidelines on the resources required for the provision of prison places, probation and youth justice services. The resource assessment can be found at   

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. We may also share responses with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons. 

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.


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