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Persistent Offender

A child who persists in committing criminal offences.

Persistent offender has no legal definition.1 A court decides whether a person is a persistent offender and the law relies on the dictionary definition of persistent. The Sentencing Council define a persistent offencer as an

“..offender [who] has been convicted of, or made subject to a pre court disposal that involves an admission or finding of guilt in relation to, imprisonable offences on at least three occasions in the past 12 months.”2  [bold added]

A court sentencing a child may need to decide if they are a persistent offender, this is because 12 – 14 year olds cannot be sentenced to a Detention and Training Order (DTO)3 or a Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) with Intensive Supervision and Surveillance (ISS) or Intensive Fostering (IF),4 unless they are a persistent offender.


  1. It is not defined in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 or Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008  (back)
  2. paragraph 6.5, Overarching Principles – Sentencing Youths, Sentencing Guidelines Council, November 2009  (back)
  3. Section 100(2)(a) Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000  (back)
  4. Section 1(4)(c) Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008  (back)