New sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences
The Sentencing Council has published definitive sentencing guidelines covering health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences. The new guidelines will be effective from 1 February 2016.
The guidelines will be used by courts in England and Wales. They apply to all organisations and individuals aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, regardless of the date of the offence. The guidelines set out the different steps the court should take when making a sentencing decision.
Example of steps when sentencing an organisation for breaching duty to ensure health and safety of employees at work:
- Step one - Determine the offence category using only the culpability and harm factors set out in the guidance
- Step two – Determine the starting point for the fine, based on the organisation’s turnover, and then consider further adjustment for mitigating or aggravating factors
- Step three - Check whether the proposed fine based on turnover is proportionate to the overall means of the offender
- Step four - Consider other factors that may warrant adjustment of the proposed fine
- Step five - Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution
- Step six - Reduction for guilty pleas
- Step seven – Consider whether to make any ancillary orders, such as compensation
- Step eight- Apply the totality principle – if sentencing for more than one offence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the offending behaviour
- Step nine – Give reasons for and explain the effect of the sentence
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