Sexual offences

The Council is currently developing sentencing guidelines on sexual offences in relation to rape, sexual assault, and indecent images of children.

Sexual offending has increasingly become an area of public concern in recent years, with increased reporting, prevention, and enforcement action. Sexual offences account for a high proportion of sentencing, particularly in the High Court, often involving difficult decisions in complex circumstances. This is an area of great importance in which we believe sentencing guidelines would bring significant benefits to the judiciary, those involved in such cases, and the wider public.

Given the wide-ranging nature of sexual offending, the Council has decided to develop multiple guidelines focusing on particular sexual offences, rather than a single guideline covering all offences. This will allow each topic to be given in-depth consideration, and for the first guidelines on sexual offending to be produced more quickly.

A stakeholder conference on sexual offending in 2018 to help identify particular challenges in sentencing, priority areas for guidance, and topics for further research. Through this and other events and research,  constructive discussions have been held with the judiciary, victim support organisations, criminal justice agencies, academics, and other interested organisations and individuals.  

Currently at stage 1

Sexual offences committee


Public perceptions of sentencing for sexual offences (08/07/2021)

Sexual offences involving rape literature review (04/02/2021)

Sexual offences involving sexual assault literature review (04/02/2021)

News release announcing sexual offences guidelines (16/05/2019)

Sentencing of sexual offences conference report