Sentencing offenders with mental disorders – Daniel Jackson published by Barrister Magazine

Sentencing offenders with mental disorders – Daniel Jackson published by Barrister Magazine

BCL associate Daniel Jackson’s article ‘Clarity and transparency now provided for the sentencing of offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders or neurological impairments’ has been published by Barrister Magazine.

Here’s an extract from the article:

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on us all to differing degrees and presented extra challenges. One aspect, experienced by many, is the affect that the enforced changes to our daily lives have had on our mental health.

The charity Mind reported in June 2020 that more than half of the adults and over two thirds of the young people from their survey (involving over 16,000 people, albeit not representative of the general public) said that their mental health had deteriorated during the period of lockdown restrictions.

Courts have often struggled to effectively deal with those who fall into this group of offenders, so the new guideline from the Sentencing Council is a welcome addition, particularly as awareness of mental health continues to increase.

The guideline applies to adults who, at the time of the offence and/or at the time of sentence, have mental disorders and/or impairments, such as depression, PTSD, autism, a learning disability or dementia (the aforementioned and others can be found listed within Annex A of the guideline).

It is important to note that the guideline specifies that the fact that an offender has an impairment or disorder should always be considered by the court, but that it will not necessarily have an impact on sentencing. It stipulates that court should take an ‘individualistic approach’ and focus on the issues in the case.

The content of the guideline is broken down into three sections, followed by three annexes. When you first come to look at the guideline, it comes across as quite text heavy, as annex A and C are fairly lengthy. The sections are void of any tables, which we are used to seeing with the guidelines for specific offences.

This article was published 06/08/2020 by Barrister Magazine. You can read the full article on their website.

Daniel Jackson is a solicitor at BCL specialising in serious and general criminal litigation. He has considerable experience of acting for individuals being investigated and prosecuted for sexual, dishonesty, violence, drugs and road traffic offences. He defends professional clients facing high-profile and complex criminal matters.