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Easton & Piper: Sentencing and Punishment 4e

Chapter 10: Guidance for end-of-chapter questions

At the end of chapter 10 you were given:

  1. Discussion questions about rehabilitation. 
  2. A case study about sentencing offences in the Dangerous Dogs Act when the outcome might well be on the community/custodial sentence borderline.  

A. Discussion questions

We asked you to consider the following questions. 

1. How does modern rehabilitationism differ from earlier forms of rehabilitation?

Guidance: In answering this question you need to consider the issues of sentence length and the question of determinate or indeterminate sentencing. In addition you could consider the implications of each approach for respect for the rights of the person being punished including the issue of coercive treatment and training and the implications for constructive regimes.  You could also consider whether the offender has a right to rehabilitation.

2. What did the Coalition Government mean by a ?Rehabilitation Revolution?? What constraints are there on the translation of this aim into practice?

Guidance: Here you should consider the discussion in Breaking the Cycle  and Transforming Rehabilitation and consider the introduction of payment by results and the outsourcing of  services for low and medium risk offenders to Community Rehabilitation Companies. However, in Chapter 10 we discussed factors which might hinder or constrain the implementation of such a ?revolution?.  Issues included the adequacy of resources to implement programmes successfully, the nature of accountability and sanctions for poor performance, and the difficulties arising from the need for voluntary and commercial groups to work together in CRCs. You could refer to the current monitoring of ?Third Sector? involvement: see Clinks, NCVO and TSRC, Early Doors, The voluntary sector?s role in Transforming Rehabilitation (August 2015).  Further, the process of tendering for rehabilitation projects may encourage a downgrading of expensive training and experience.

B. Dangerous dogs case study

We asked you to read the following scenario and then sentence Amos.

Amos owns two dogs which he usually takes to nearby wasteland for exercise. One day when on holiday he took them to a park where a notice said that dogs were not permitted. However he let the dogs, who were not muzzled, off the lead and one dog ran up to a child and bit her before running back to Amos.  Amos did not wait or apologise but left with his dogs. A passer-by took a video of the incident and posted it on YouTube. This eventually led to the police arresting Amos who was charged with the aggravated offence of being in charge of a dog ?dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) where a person is injured? under s 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended 13 May 2014). Amos pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

The young girl?s injuries were serious, necessitating an operation and leaving a scar. The court accepted that Amos was remorseful and that his dogs had not attacked anyone before.  Amos is now a single parent looking after a 5-year-old daughter with the help of his sister, who lives near him. He has some minor and mostly not very recent convictions, including one for possession of cannabis and one for driving while uninsured. At the time of the offence Amos was on bail in relation to a careless driving charge which was later dropped.

In sentencing Amos we asked you to note that the maximum penalty for this aggravated offence is now five years (new s. 1(4A)(b) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 Act inserted by s. 106 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014). The 2012 Definitive Guideline has been revised because it was written when the maximum was two years and then the offence range was discharge? 18 months? custody. The Draft Guideline in the 2015 Consultation Paper suggested an offence range of discharge? four years? custody and the new Guideline confirms that range (Sentencing Council 2016: 9). For this exercise you should, therefore, use the revised Guideline which is effective from 1 July 2016.

We also suggested it might be helpful to read again relevant sections of Chapter 3 (to remind yourself of the sentencing framework and the approach to sentencing issues raised by this case scenario) and sections 7.3.1 and 7.4.5 in Chapter 7 (personal mitigation).  

You should first note that there are no indications that the special provisions for mentally disordered or dangerous offenders apply. You should also note that the Dangerous Dog Offences Definitive Guideline (Sentencing Council, 2016) is the guideline to be used after 1 July 2016.  

If you look at the 2012 guideline you will note that none of the factors indicating ?lesser culpability? (level C) in Step 1 of the Guideline (p. 10) for this offence apply to the facts of this case and this is also the case in regard to the 2016 revised Guideline. You should then consider all the factors listed which indicate higher (A) or medium (B) culpability and make a decision as to whether ? taken overall ? the culpability level is A, B or C. You then move on to the three categories of harm and decide likewise.
At Step 2 (p.11) you then feed your results in to the grid given to find a corresponding starting point for your sentence. Page 12 then supplies lists of factors aggravating or mitigating the seriousness of the offending in question. You use these to move the starting point up or down within the range given on page 11. This requires you, inter alia, to consider the effect of previous convictions (and the grounds for not aggravating on that basis), and the implications of his offending whilst on bail. You also consider any personal mitigating factors at this point.  At Step 4 you need to discuss the discount for a guilty plea and specify the percentage by which you are reducing the sentence you have reached by the end of Step 3.

In your research for this case study you might have found relevant case law to help make a decision about whether to take the personal circumstances into account (e.g. Mills [2002] EWCA Crim 26) or even an appeal case relating to this offence (e.g. R v Diedrick [2012] EWCA Crim 2242 in which Leveson LJ ? first Chairman of the Sentencing Council - gave the judgement).

You should provide a sentence and refer to ancillary orders, notably compensation, and decide whether you need to impose a dog destruction order or an order disqualifying Amos from having custody of a dog.  Note that the offence to which Amos pleaded guilty was an aggravated offence under s. 3(1) and so s. 4(1)(a) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is important: the court must order the dog?s destruction unless s. 4(1A) applies. 
Useful texts:

Ares, E. and Coe, S.  (2013) Dangerous Dogs, Standard Note SN/SC/4348, House of Commons Library, available at:  http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN04348
Sentencing Council (2012) Dangerous Dog Offences, Definitive Guideline, pp. 9-13 (but sentence range is no longer applicable)
Sentencing Council (2015d) Dangerous Dog Offences Guideline Consultation. London, Sentencing Council (see p.71 for the Draft Guideline for the relevant offence).  
Sentencing Council (2016) Dangerous Dog Offences, Definitive Guideline. London, Sentencing Council (ss pp. 9-14 for the relevant offence).
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 s 4 ? destruction and disqualification orders (version in force since 22nd September 2015).