New guidelines unveiled for the sentencing of burglaries have been welcomed by retailers. 

Following a consultation earlier this year, the Sentencing Council has published definitive guidelines for punishing burglars and has extended the range of sentences for crimes against non-domestic premises.

From January 16, 2012, those who commit burglary on a non-domestic premises can receive a sentence of up to five years, this is an increase from the maximum penalty of four years which is currently in force.

The guidelines also call on judges to focus on the harm caused to the individual, inviting them to hand down a harsher sentence should the victim have suffered significant trauma. It is hoped that this will place more emphasis on the impact to the victim beyond the financial implications of the crime, encouraging more use of Victim Personal Statements.

In a submission made to the Sentencing Council earlier this year, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) called for an extension to sentencing for the burglary of convenience stores and for courts to take into account the impact of the crime on businesses, communities and staff.

“We welcome the changes made to sentencing guidelines for burglaries meaning that courts will be able to place greater emphasis on the impact of a burglary on individuals as well as the business,” said chief executive James Lowman. “We hope the extend range for sentences will also act as deterrent to criminals.

“This focus on the victim reinforces the need for retailers that are victims of burglaries, or any other crime, to provide victim personal statements giving courts a better understanding of the impact of a crime, allowing them to make a more informed sentencing decision.”

Further information on Victim Personal Statements can be found here.