Following a period of consultation, the Sentencing Council has set out the guideline for judges and magistrates to assist them in sentencing people suffering from mental disorders, developmental disorders and neurological impairments.
Last year, Headway responded to the Sentencing Council’s consultation and highlighted the importance of explicitly including the category of acquired brain injury and its effects within the guideline and provided a stronger definition of what acquired brain injury is.
The guideline, which will come into force in October 2020, stipulates that the court should take an individualistic approach and focus on the issues in the case when handing down sentences.
Responding to the publication of the guideline, Headway’s Chief Executive, Peter McCabe said: “We welcome this new guideline which will provide much-needed clarity in a very complex area. We are pleased the Sentencing Council took heed of our recommendation to include specific reference to neurological impairments and used our suggested definition of acquired brain injury. We congratulate the Sentencing Council for adopting a compassionate, common sense approach.
“The effects of a brain injury can fluctuate from one day to the next and sometimes the ability to exercise appropriate judgements or make rational choices may be impaired.”
As part of its Justice Project, Headway will continue to provide training to staff working in the criminal justice system to improve understanding of brain injury and ensure brain injury survivors are treated fairly and have access to the support and guidance they need.
“This guideline is an important step towards a person-centred approach to sentencing. It also ensures that the effects of brain injury are understood and taken into account in our justice system and survivors are treated appropriately.”Back