Tougher Sentences for Manslaughter to be introduced

An individual can be charged with gross negligence manslaughter if they have negligently ignored health and safety risks resulting in the death of another person.

Up to now, there have not been any sentencing guidelines for this offence which has led to a lack of consistency between courts when sentencing.

This will change with the introduction of the Manslaughter Definitive Guideline becomes effective on 1 November 2018. The guideline will apply to sentencing carried out after that date in England and Wales, regardless of when the offence happened.

The Guideline will help judges assess the different factors involved in a case. A greater penalty will apply if there was a blatant disregard of risks or financial motivation such as cost cutting. Where there is a high level of blame attached to an individual the starting point for sentencing will be a twelve-year custodial sentence. This could be further increased if there were other aggravating factors such as ignoring warnings, intimidation or exploitation. Conversely, at the lower end of the sentencing scale, for cases where there was a lapse in normally high safety standards, the range of custodial sentences would be one to four years.