Sentencing youths: Overarching principles and offence specific guidelines on sexual offences and robbery

Closed 3 Aug 2016

Opened 12 May 2016


The Sentencing Council is seeking views on the draft guideline ‘Sentencing Youths – Overarching Principle and Offence-Specific Guidelines for Sexual Offences and Robbery’.

The predecessor body to the Sentencing Council, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) published a definitive guideline Overarching Principles - Sentencing Youths, in November 2009. It also published offence-specific guidelines for youths within its definitive robbery guideline, published in July 2006, and within part 7 of its definitive guideline on the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which was published in April 2007,

In December 2013 the Sentencing Council published new adult guidelines for sexual offences and in January 2016 new adult robbery guidelines.

In producing both of these guidelines the Council decided that it would be inappropriate to produce new youth guidelines as part of the same project as it was considered that sentencing youths required a different approach.

The existing SGC youth sexual offences guidelines and robbery guidelines therefore remain in force.

The Council recognised that youth sentencing guidelines have become piecemeal and dated and so committed to reviewing youth sentencing as a stand alone project in order to produce up to date, consolidated guidance. As part of this package the Council decided to update and review the Overarching Principles document, to provide a comprehensive and accessible document on the general principles to be applied when sentencing youths.

The Overarching Principles – Sentencing Youths guideline covers general principles for sentencing a youth for any offence.

The offence-specific guideline on sexual offences covers all sexual offences committed by a person under 18, and will replace the guidelines produced by the SGC in 2007 that covered only those offences which have a lower maximum penalty when committed by a person under 18.

The offence-specific robbery guideline covers all types of robbery offending committed by those under 18 and will replace the SGC youth robbery guideline, produced in 2006.

More information on the development and context of these guidelines can be found in Annex B below.

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


  • Youth workers
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Young offender institute staff
  • Youth Offending Team workers


  • Courts
  • Youth Justice
  • Criminal justice