New sentencing guidelines for heists and home robberies
Sentencing guidelines for robbery have been broadened to cover crimes ranging from street muggings to major heists.
Courts in England and Wales will receive the first detailed rules on punishments for robberies in victims' homes and professionally-planned commercial raids.
The new guidelines from the Sentencing Council are the first for robbery in 10 years and will apply from April.
The Ministry of Justice said it welcomed the revised guidance.
'Variety of offenders'
Under the new guidelines, which must be followed unless a judge feels it is not in the interests of justice to do so, there are now three categories of robbery specified:
- Street robbery and "less sophisticated" commercial robbery, which make up by far the largest proportion of offences, and generally involve crimes committed in public places
- Professionally-planned commercial robbery, which include crimes such as sophisticated heists at jewellers or security depots
- Robbery in a home, for example when an offender is invited into a property before stealing from a victim using violence
The previous guidelines did not include any detailed advice on the second two strands so the new set will be used to sentence a "much wider range of offending", the council said.
Robbery always involves the use or threat of force, making it distinct from crimes such as theft or burglary, and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The "starting point" for sentences in the most serious cases will be eight years, 16 years and 13 years for the street, commercial and dwelling robbery categories respectively.
Lord Justice Treacy, chairman of the Sentencing Council, said: "We want to ensure that judges have comprehensive guidelines that help them sentence the great variety of offenders they have to deal with, which can include anything from a street mugging to a major robbery by an organised gang."
The guidelines also emphasise that offenders who use knives and guns should get the longest jail terms.
They also direct judges to take into account both physical injuries and psychological harm so the full impact on victims is taken into account.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "It is vital that victims of crime see swift and certain justice."
Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: "These new sentencing guidelines demonstrate how important it is to consider the impact of the crime on the victim."