Harsher prison terms for heritage vandals under new guidelines

VANDALS who attack historic sites like heritage railways could face prison sentences of up to four year under tough new sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates.

For the first time the Sentencing Council for England and Wales has specifically said “arson or criminal damage to national heritage assets” should be seen as an aggravating factor in advice for courts weighing up prison terms.

One of the Churnet Valley coaches which was sprayed with graffiti in early April. CVR

With Category 1 criminal damage cases, pre-meditated or revenge attacks, this could extend an 18-month sentence to a four-year term, if the recommendations are adopted.

The Sentencing Council promotes greater consistency in sentencing of offenders, while maintaining the independence of the judiciary. It produces guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and criminal justice professionals and aims to increase public understanding of sentencing.

The new tougher sentences proposal has been published in the wake of a spate of vandalism at heritage lines. In the past year, historic coaches on the North Yorkshire Moors and Severn Valley railways have been damaged.

In the latest incident, at the Churnet Valley Railway, overnight between Saturday, April 7, and Sunday, April 8, graffiti was sprayed on several carriages.

Once the damage was discovered, volunteers rallied round to rectify what they could in order to prevent a special Paw Patrol family event on the Sunday being cancelled.

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