Following the Sentencing Council’s publication on sentencing guidelines on 3rd November 2015, the new guidelines are now in force. These guidelines cover health & safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food offences.
Considered by some to be the most dramatic change to health & safety legislation since the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, these new guidelines gives courts comprehensive guidance for health & safety offences. The courts must follow a nine step structured approach when calculating sentences. The courts will now take into account culpability and harm factors, using a set of tables to calculate sentences.
The Sentencing Council has decided that existing guidance should be expanded and revised to ensure that fair and proportionate sentences are given to offenders.
It has been widely reported that the new guidelines will result in higher penalties although the Council has stated that it does not have any intention that fines should increase across the board. However, larger organisations that are convicted of flagrant breaches of legislation, or where serious harm has occurred, or could have occurred, can expect to receive a fine proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and their financial means.