Sentencing Guidelines (England & Wales)
Readers will note that The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has published new Sentencing Guidelines in relation to manslaughter offences. The Guidelines came into force in England and Wales from 1st November 2018, but are not applicable in Northern Ireland. Under the Guidelines, Courts in England and Wales must follow a step-by-step guide in determining the appropriate level of sentence.
Of the four types of manslaughter considered, gross negligence manslaughter is perhaps the most relevant to breaches of health and safety leading to workplace fatalities. For this offence, the Court will first consider the individual’s level of culpability, based on factors such as whether the negligent conduct was motivated by financial gain, or whether there was a blatant disregard to the very high risk of death. The Guidelines specify the starting point for determining sentence. However, it is then anticipated that any aggravating or mitigating factors will be applied so as to increase or decrease the sentence, as appropriate, within a specified category range.
As an example, the maximum sentence for gross negligence manslaughter, in situations where the individual is found to have ‘very high’ culpability, is 18 years’ custody. The starting point for sentence in this category is 12 years, with a category range of 10-18 years.
Further information is available from the following IOSH article: https://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Manslaughter-sentencing-guidelines-IOSH-response.aspx