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Section 236A sentences

16 April 2020

What a Section 236A sentence means

Section 236A is a form of custodial sentence. It places those convicted of certain child sex and terrorism offences under closer supervision when released. 

Before its introduction, all offenders serving sentences which had been decided by the court – known as standard determinate sentences – were released halfway through their sentence.

Section 236A came into force on 13 April 2015 through the passing of part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act (CJCA) 2015. It applies to anyone sentenced on or after this date, even if the offence was committed before it.

It does not apply to offenders sentenced to life imprisonment or to extended sentences.

How a Section 236A sentence is applied

A person who is sentenced to imprisonment for an offence listed in schedule 18A to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 must be given a special custodial sentence for offenders of particular concern (SOPC). These include offences under:

  • section 4 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 that have a terrorist connection
  • section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 that have a terrorist connection
  • section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000
  • section 47 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
  • sections 5 and 6 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

They must have been 18 or over when they committed the offence.

Paragraph 23 of schedule 18A states that abolished offences can also be subject to a SOPC if they’re an offence under current legislation. Abolished offences are offences that no longer exist, such as historic sexual offences under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

Offenders of a particular concern (SOPC)

A SOPC is made up of an appropriate prison term and an extended licence of one year.

This means the offender will no longer be automatically released halfway through their custodial sentence. However, the Parole Board can grant a discretionary release after this point.

Read guidance about these sentences published by the Criminal Appeal Office (PDF 274 KB)