Phone thieves face tougher punishments for causing ’emotional distress’


The Sentencing Council has published new guidelines on how courts should take emotional impact mobile phone thefts have on victims into account during sentencing.

The new guidelines, which come into full effect on February 1, have been introduced to ensure judges and magistrates in courts consider other factors, besides financial loss, when sentencing a mobile phone thief. These factors include the emotional distress caused by the loss of personal photographs or information stored on a mobile phone.

Sentencing Council member and magistrate Jill Gramann said: “The new guidelines will help judges and magistrates deal with this great variety of offences while ensuring that the harm caused to the victim is central to the sentencing decision. Thefts are committed for financial gain, but can mean much more than financial loss to the victim and we want to ensure sentences take this into account.”

Over 91,000 offenders were sentenced in court last year for thefts. According to the Sentencing Council, thefts are the most common offences the courts handle, but it gave no specific figures for the number of offenders sentenced for mobile phone thefts.

Chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said: “It is positive that the new guideline allows sentencers to take into account the full impact of theft offences, which includes the non-financial consequences for businesses and their staff.”