Blackmail is an indictable-only offence. A person convicted of blackmail is liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding fourteen years.[39]

In R v Hadjou (1989),[40] Lord Lane CJ said that blackmail is one of the ugliest and most vicious crimes because it often involves what he described as “attempted murder of the soul”. He said that, perhaps because courts always impose severe sentences, one seldom finds a person convicted a second time of blackmail. He said that deterrence is perhaps the most important part of a sentence in a case of blackmail.

Related offences[edit]

Because blackmail can cover any unwarranted demand with a menace, many other offences may also be carried out as part of committing blackmail, or by the same events. For example:

  • An offence of robbery under section 8(1) of the Theft Act 1968 may be committed, if a person puts or seeks to put another person in fear of being subjected to force if their demand is not met.
  • An offence under section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 might be committed if a person intended to cause another person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him (or someone else) or if the person threatened is likely to believe that such violence will be used.[41]
  • An offence under section 2 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 may be committed if there is a threat to destroy or damage property.
  • An offence under section 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 may be committed if a person receives consideration (broadly meaning: any gain or benefit) in exchange for agreeing not to report any “relevant” (previously: “arrestable”) offence.

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