Health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences guidelines consultation

  • Issuer: Sentencing Council
  • Ends on: 14/01/2015

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About this consultation

Currently there is only piecemeal guidance for sentencing the health and safety offences not covered by the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) guideline i.e. offences not resulting in death and offences committed by individuals. Some general guidance is provided in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines and Court of Appeal authorities setting out general principles of sentencing for such offences.

Background

The Sentencing Council believes that further guidance will assist with consistency and help sentencers deal with relatively unfamiliar cases. This is a particular priority, given that the recent Court of Appeal’s review of sentencing corporate offenders for health and safety offences reiterated the importance of identifying an appropriate level of fine. Additionally, the Council has published a definitive guideline for environmental offences (in force from July) which it anticipates will lead to some higher fines; it therefore wishes to ensure that health and safety sentencing is consistent and proportionate with environmental. And finally, it anticipates that guidance is needed to support new fining powers allowing Magistrates to impose unlimited fines for certain offences, including health and safety, once these come into effect (as per the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012).

Proposed changes

The Sentencing Council is now proposing a different approach for the assessment of fines than is found in the SGC guideline and is keen to ensure consistency across health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences. It is consulting on the draft guidelines for sentencing health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety offences, as set out at Annex C of its consultation paper, as follows:

  • the scope of each guideline
  • the overall approach proposed to sentencing organisations and individuals for these offences
  • factors that make these offences more or less serious
  • the principles of sentencing in this area
  • the sentences that should be passed for health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety offences
  • anything else that respondents think should be considered.

The Council is not consulting on the legislation itself nor on issues such as wider enforcement policy or prosecution decisions and recognises that some respondents may not be interested in all guideline areas. IOSH members are invited to comment on relevant sections, as follows:

  • Section one: overarching information and questions relating to cross-cutting issues
  • Section two: health and safety offences guidelines for individuals and organisations
  • Section three: corporate manslaughter guideline
  • Section five: questions relating to victims and equality and diversity matters across all guidelines

Have your say

Please send us your responses to the Sentencing Council’s consultation questions (listed below) and/or your general comments on the guidelines to consultation@iosh.co.uk by 14 January 2015. Thank you.

Consultation questions

Section one: Aims and overarching issues

1. Do you agree with the overarching principles for setting fines for these offences, set out in step three of the draft guidelines?
2. Do you agree that the proposed structure of the guidelines for organisations provides the right balance of guidance and flexibility for sentencers?
3. Do you agree with how turnover, profit and reference to other financial factors have been used in the guideline to assist sentencers in identifying fine levels? If not, what alternative to assessing the means of the offender would you suggest?
4. Do you agree that quantifiable economic benefit derived from the offence should be considered in calculating the fine?
5. Do you agree with the approach used for categorising micro, small, medium and large organisations at step two and the guidance provided for dealing with very large organisations?
6. Do you agree with the wider factors set out in step four of the guidelines for organisations that the court should consider when finalising fines?
7. Do you agree that the structure of the guidelines for individuals is appropriate?
8. Do you agree that the correct factors relating to finalising a fine on an individual are included in step three?
9. Do you agree with the decision not to include separate and specific steps for compensation and confiscation in the guidelines?

Section two: Guidelines for health and safety offences

10. Do you agree with the proposed scope of the health and safety guidelines for organisations and individuals?
11. Do you agree with the proposed culpability factors for organisations and individuals at step one of the health and safety guidelines? If not, please specify what you would change and why.
12. Do you agree with the overall approach proposed for assessing harm for health and safety offences?
13. Do you agree that the proposed factors for assessing risk of harm in the health and safety guidelines are clear and appropriately gradated? If not, what changes would you make?
14. Do you agree with the factors included in the second stage of the assessment of harm process? If not, please identify what you would change and why.
15. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for micro organisations in the health and safety guideline?
16. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for small organisations in the health and safety guideline?
17. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for medium organisations in the health and safety guideline?
18. Do you agree with the starting points and ranges for large organisations in the health and safety guideline? Please consider the relevance of the top of the range given the guidance that: “where a defendant organisation’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence”.
19. What impact do you think the proposals will have on current sentencing practice for organisations that have committed health and safety offences?
20. Do you agree with the proposed use of custodial starting points for individuals in the health and safety guideline?
21. Do you consider the guidance regarding the use of community orders and fines in the health and safety guideline to be appropriate and sufficient?
22. Do you agree with the remainder of the proposed starting points and ranges for individuals in the health and safety guideline?
23. What effect do you think the draft guideline will have on current sentencing practice relating to individuals who commit health and safety offences?
24. Do you agree with the proposed aggravating and mitigating factors in the health and safety guideline?
25. Is the guidance provided on ancillary orders and compensation in the health and safety guidelines for organisations and individuals appropriate and sufficient?

Section three: Guideline for corporate manslaughter

26. Do you agree with the overall approach to assessing offence seriousness at step one of the corporate manslaughter guideline?
27. Do you agree with the proposed questions relating to culpability and harm in step one of the corporate manslaughter guideline?
28. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for micro organisations in the corporate manslaughter guideline?
29. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for small organisations in the corporate manslaughter guideline?
30. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for medium organisations in the corporate manslaughter guideline?
31. Do you agree with the proposed starting points and ranges for large organisations in the corporate manslaughter guideline? Please consider the relevance of the top of the range given the guidance that: “where a defendant organisation’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence”.
32. Do you agree with the proposed aggravating and mitigating factors for corporate manslaughter?
33. Do you agree that the guidance on ancillary orders and compensation in the corporate manslaughter guideline is appropriate and sufficient?

Section five: Victims and equality and diversity

47. Are there further ways in which you think victims can or should be considered?
48. Are there any equality or diversity matters that the Council should consider? Please provide evidence of any issues where possible.
49. Are there any further comments you wish to make that have not been covered elsewhere in the consultation?

IOSH members wishing to also respond individually to the Sentencing Council should visit here and respond by 18 February 2015.