The influence of technological developments on offending - such as sharing photos and videos on social media, and online grooming - have been factored into new sentencing proposals for young offenders.
A consultation published today by the Sentencing Council proposes guidelines in two parts: the overall approach courts should take when sentencing young offenders aged between 10 and 17, and draft sentencing guidelines covering robbery and sexual offences.
The council’s ‘overarching principles’ update existing guidance, reflecting developments such as a new guideline on how cases should be allocated to the Crown or magistrates’ court.
Setting out a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of ‘aggravating’ factors in sexual offences cases, the council says it is aware that the recording and sharing of photos and video footage have ’become increasingly common’.
It says: ‘This sort of behaviour is often used to embarrass or humiliate the victim, and in some cases may be used as some form of blackmail. The council therefore considers this to be a serious aggravating feature.’
As a result, its sexual offences guideline lists ‘deliberate humiliation of victim, including but not limited to filming of the offence, deliberately committing the offence before a group of peers with the intent of causing additional distress or circulating details/photos/videos etc of the offence on social media or within peer groups’ as an aggravating and mitigating factor.
‘All aspects’ of grooming, including online, would also be aggravating factors.
The proposed robbery guideline includes ‘economic, personal or sentimental’ high-value goods or sums targeted and obtained as an aggravating factor.
Sentencing Council chair Lord Justice Treacy said: ‘We want to ensure that young people who have committed offences are sentenced fairly and proportionately, with the primary aim of stopping them reoffending.’
The consultation closes on 3 August.