Making new criminal offences

This guidance is for officials who may be considering creating new criminal offences or amending existing criminal offences.



The government is committed to preventing the proliferation of unnecessary new offences and to ensuring that any new offences are fit for purpose. It is the responsibility of individual departments to ensure that new behaviour is not criminalised without careful consideration, that alternatives to criminal offences are used where appropriate, and that the impacts and cost to the criminal justice system are accounted for.

Departments should consider engaging with Ministry of Justice officials on the content and implications of new or amended criminal offences at an early stage through completion of a Justice Impact Test.

This publication replaces the former Criminal Offences Gateway guidance.