The Sentencing Council is consulting (external link) on updated sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of child cruelty offences, including causing or allowing death or serious injury, or neglect in England and Wales.
The proposals introduce a new ‘very high culpability’ level for the most serious cases to reflect new maximum sentences introduced by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 for two offences:
- causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm (external link); and
- cruelty to a child including ill-treatment, abandonment or neglect (external link).
The proposed sentences for the ‘very high culpability’ level take into account the increased statutory maxima and are higher than the sentence ranges in the current guideline. The culpability factors of other levels (high, medium and lower), the various harm factors and the sentence levels for all cases not falling into ‘very high culpability’ would remain the same.
The Council is seeking views on the proposed revisions from judges, magistrates, prosecution and defence advocates and others with an interest in this area. The consultation will run from today (Thursday 4 August) to 27 October 2022. The existing guidelines came into force in 2019.
A press notice (external link) can be found on the Sentencing Council website.