Robbery Guideline

Closed 23 Jan 2015

Opened 21 Oct 2014


Why robbery?

The Sentencing Council recently issued a definitive fraud, bribery and money laundering guideline and held a consultation on guidelines for theft offences. When drawing up the work programme it was considered logical to develop guidelines for acquisitive offences at a similar time. The Council was also mindful that the existing robbery guideline does not include guidance for sentencing all types of robbery.

There is one offence of robbery; section 8(1) of the Theft Act 1968. ‘A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force’ . The predecessor body to the Sentencing Council, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) published a definitive guideline for robbery in July 2006. The SGC grouped together street robbery, robberies of small businesses and less sophisticated commercial robberies into one guideline. No guidance is provided for personal robberies in the home or for professionally planned commercial robberies.

Which offences are covered by the guideline?

Within the SGC guidance is a guideline for sentencing youth offenders. The Sentencing Council guidelines will apply to the sentencing of adult offenders only. This is because work is underway by the Council to review the overarching guidance on the sentencing of youths; this may include specific guidance for sentencing youths convicted of robbery. Until any new definitive guidance is issued the SGC guideline for youth offenders will remain in force.

The draft guidelines are grouped as follows:

  • Street robbery (robberies committed in public places including parks, stations, on public transport)
  • Commercial robbery (robberies where the target is a business/ organisation)
  • Robbery in a dwelling

As with all the Sentencing Council guidelines this will also be applicable to conspiracy to commit the substantive offence.

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 robbery 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.

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

  • the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guideline more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • the approach taken to structuring the draft guidelines;
  • the sentences that should be passed for robbery offences; and
  • anything else that you think should be considered.

A number of scenarios have been included in order to obtain detailed responses to how the draft guidelines might be applied and whether there are any difficulties with them. The Council is aware of the time pressures consultees are faced with but would be particularly grateful for responses to any of the scenarios as they are likely to be influential in assessing post consultation options.


  • Citizens
  • Youth workers
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Legal professional bodies


  • Courts
  • Youth Justice
  • Criminal justice