New sentencing guidelines to be introduced in February

The Sentencing Council has published revised sentencing guidelines for health and safety, food and hygiene safety, and corporate manslaughter offences, which will be used by judges and magistrates in courts in England and Wales and will come into force on February 1, 2016.

The new sentencing guidelines are designed to ensure that “there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences”, as the Sentencing Council considered the previous guidelines to be too “limited”.

New healthy and safety prosecuting guidelines come into force

The offences which are addressed in the guidelines have been described as “very varied” and include sentencing rules in relation to injuries and manslaughter offences as a result of insufficient training or unsuitable equipment; shoddy workmanship by handymen, electricians, plumbers etc; and e.coli poisoning as a result of poor food hygiene, to name just a handful of the offences detailed in the guidelines.

The Sentencing Council has said that the revised guidelines will result in tougher penalties and fines, and that judges and magistrates will now take the seriousness of the offence and the turnover of the offending company into consideration.

Michael Caplan QC, Sentencing Council member, said: “These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”

The revises sentencing guidelines can be found at www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk