Child Cruelty Sentencing Guidelines Consultation

Closes 27 Oct 2022

Opened 4 Aug 2022

Overview

What is this consultation about?

The Sentencing Council proposes to amend its existing sentencing guidelines for child cruelty offences, to reflect recent changes to the statutory maximum penalties. These offences are:

  • Causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm (contrary to section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004); and
  • Cruelty to a child (contrary to section 1(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933).[1]

Background

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has raised the maximum penalties for these offences.

The maximum penalty for cruelty to a child under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 has been raised from 10 to 14 years’ custody. The maximum penalty for causing or allowing a child to suffer serious harm under section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 was also raised from 10 to 14 years’ custody. The maximum penalty for causing or allowing a child to die has been raised from 14 years to life custody.

The Sentencing Council issued guidelines for these offences in 2018 which came into force on 1 January 2019[2], and the Council believes that the sentence tables should be revised to reflect the recent changes in maximum penalties.

Alongside this consultation paper, the Council has produced a statistical bulletin and data tables showing current sentencing practice for this offence and a resource assessment. These can be found on the Sentencing Council’s website: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/research-and-resources/publications/

In the following section the proposed revision is set out and you will be asked to give your views.

What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines which courts in England and Wales must follow when passing a sentence. The Council consults on its proposed guidelines before they come into force and makes changes to the guidelines as a result of consultations.

 

[1] Whilst the offence under section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 applies also to vulnerable adult victims, the guideline applies to child victims only. For the purposes of the section 5 offence, the offence under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, and therefore these guidelines, a child is anyone under 16 years of age.

Audiences

  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Young people
  • Charities
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Legal professional bodies
  • VCSE/Charity/Mutual
  • Think tanks
  • Academics
  • UK politicians

Interests

  • Criminal justice