Sentencing Council plans to increase workplace manslaughter jail terms

10th July 2017

As reported by Health and Safety at Work online, individuals found guilty of the most serious gross negligence manslaughter offences following workplace accidents could face up to 18 years in jail under new proposals unveiled by the Sentencing Council.

The Council today opened a 14-week consultation on a new guideline for sentencing manslaughter offences, which it said will increase jail terms in serious cases of gross negligence manslaughter. The consultation will be open until 10 October 2017.

According to the Council, sentences for gross negligence manslaughter are inconsistent and generally lower than other types of manslaughter.

The consultation document, which can be accessed on the Sentencing Council’s website, says: “In considering the factors that make an offence of gross negligence manslaughter more or less serious, the Council came to the conclusion that it would be appropriate for sentences to increase in some situations.

“Typically these are cases where an employer has had a long standing, utter disregard for the safety of employees and is motivated by cost cutting – but there may be other analogous factual scenarios where sentences would also rise under the proposed guideline.

“The aim of the guideline is to ensure that sentences are consistent, based on a fair assessment of culpability and harm and the circumstances of the offender, regardless of the factual scenario.”

“Manslaughter always involves the loss of a human life and no sentence can make up for that loss. In developing these guidelines, we have been keenly aware of the impact caused by these offences and so the guidelines aim to ensure sentencing that properly reflects both the culpability of the offender and the seriousness of the harm which has been caused.”

The consultation document says that an analysis of sentencing transcripts revealed that, in 2014, 16 offenders were sentenced for manslaughter by gross negligence. All of them were sentenced to custodial terms ranging from nine months to 12 years, four of which were suspended. The median sentence length was four years.

Whilst Health and Safety is a top priority for the majority of businesses many either don’t have the capital to recruit a full time professional in house and maintain their skills and knowledge or simply don’t want to divert valuable resources to non core activities.

Whilst this may be the case, it is still a legal requirement to be able to demonstrate that you are compliant and failure to comply with current UK legislation can result in legal cases.

Innov8 Risk consultants (Part of Lucion Services) offer a flexible outsourcing solution to ensure that you have all the support you need, at a fraction of the cost of directly employing health and safety managers.

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