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New sentencing guideline for dangerous dog offences comes into force

August 17, 2012, 10:33 am

New sentencing guideline for dangerous dog offences comes into force

From 20 August 2012, courts in England and Wales will be adopting a tougher

approach to the way those convicted of dangerous dog offences are treated as a new

sentencing guideline comes into effect.

Published on 15 May, this guideline now comes into force in all courts in England and


With increasing numbers of convictions for offences involving dangerous dogs in

recent years, the new guideline will help ensure courts use their full powers when

dealing with offenders.

The Sentencing Councils guideline aims to provide clear guidance to judges and

magistrates to encourage consistency in sentencing and appropriate sentences for

owners of dangerous dogs.

The sentencing ranges set out by the guideline mark an increase in sentencing levels

from previous practice. The top of the sentencing range for owners allowing their

dog to be dangerously out of control injuring someone has been set at 18 months

custody in order to encourage the courts to use more severe sentences when it

would be appropriate to do so. Previously, sentences have tended to go up to

approximately 12 months.

The top of the sentencing range for possession of a prohibited dog has been set at

the legal maximum of six months custody to encourage courts to use the full range

of their sentencing powers for the most serious cases.

It means more offenders will face jail sentences, more will get community orders and

fewer will receive discharges.

The guideline will also help courts make the best use of their powers so that

irresponsible owners who put the public at risk can be banned from keeping dogs,

genuinely dangerous dogs can be put down and compensation can be paid to


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