Changes to Punishments for Arson and Criminal Damage Crimes

We asked our work experience placement student Nicola Corby to write a blog as part her time in the criminal law team. Nicola undertook research on a topic I gave to her and wrote the following blog. 

"Whilst Magistrates’ Courts are equipped with guidelines relating to the sentencing of arson and criminal damage offences, no such guidance currently exists for Crown Courts.


This is set to change: the Sentencing Council have issued a new consultation, set to close on the 26th June 2018. As part of this consultation, tougher sentences are being considered where “aggravating” features exist.

Resources impacted

“Aggravating” factors include instances where there is a "significant impact" on emergency services. Where large numbers of police, ambulance and fire vehicles are required to respond to an event, there is a knock-on effect on the resources available for other public incidents.

The proposed guidelines reflect the fact that the consequences of criminal damage and arson offences are often long-lasting. Damage to schools, community buildings or train stations can have a “real impact” on local communities. The proposed guidelines make it clear that the courts should consider the economic or social impact of such crimes.

Ensure consistency in sentencing

The guidelines cover arson, criminal damage or arson with intent to endanger life, criminal damage valued at above and below £5,000, threats to destroy or damage property, and racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Sentencing Council member Judge Sarah Munro QC has said: "The guidelines we are proposing will help ensure consistency in the sentencing of these extremely varied offences […] They can range from very minor damage to property up to an intent to endanger lives, and the guidelines set out an approach to sentencing that will help ensure appropriate sentences according to the seriousness of each offence."

The consultation is open now and closes on 26 June 2018."