Assessment on Sentencing Guidelines Published

In April 2019 the Sentencing Council published an assessment on the impact and implementation of the Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety & Hygiene Offences Guidelines which were introduced in February 2016

The Guidelines were aimed to ensure that levels of fines imposed for these offences were proportionate to the means of the offender and reflected the seriousness of the offence committed.  They were introduced because of a perception that offenders, particularly large companies, were getting off lightly.

The assessment compared fines imposed on organisations in the ten months prior to the introduction of the Guidelines and those imposed in the ten months following.  The assessment found that fines increased for organisations after the Guidelines came into effect.  In the pre-guideline period, the mean fine amount was £40,500 and the median was £12,000. In the post-guideline period both the mean and median increased to £221,700 and £60,000 respectively.   The shift to larger fines can be seen the chart below:

It is also apparent that larger organisations are getting much larger fines.  For ‘Large/Very large’ organisations, the median fine increased from £25,000 pre-guideline to £370,800 post-guideline.  The median fines for ‘Micro/Small’ and ‘Medium’ organisations also increased from £20,100 to £45,200 and £20,000 to £100,000 respectively.  This can be clearly seen in the chart below:

The assessment shows that the Guidelines are being used as intended.  This means that getting health and safety wrong can prove to be very expensive to an organisation.   The best way to avoid such large fines is to take a proactive and hands-on approach to health and safety: something Aegis can assist organisations to achieve.