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December 2, 2015

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Sentencing guidelines update

Following the Sentencing Council’s publication of the definitive sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety offences on 3 November, the guidelines will come into force on 1 February next year. They will apply to any case sentenced in courts in England and Wales on or after that date.

The Sentencing Council explains that the guidelines have been introduced to give courts comprehensive guidance for these offences. They can involve highly complex cases that do not frequently come before the courts and therefore the Sentencing Council decided that existing guidance should be expanded and revised to ensure that fair and proportionate sentences are given to offenders.

It has stated that in some cases, the guidelines will result in higher penalties, although the council does not have any intention that the guideline should increase fines across the board, or that they will be significantly higher in the majority of cases to those currently imposed.

However, large organisations that have been convicted of the most serious offences, where they have flagrantly breached the law and created a very high risk of serious harm, or where serious harm has actually been caused, can expect to receive a fine proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and to their financial means.

Courts have been preparing for their introduction and a training pack has been produced by the Judicial College for magistrates and legal advisers to ensure they are familiar with this new approach to sentencing.

The guidelines can be found on the Sentencing Council’s website



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