Manslaughter Guideline Consultation

Closed 10 Oct 2017

Opened 4 Jul 2017


What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines for the courts to use when passing a sentence. The Council’s remit extends to allow consultation on the sentencing of offenders following conviction.

Why manslaughter?

In May 2014 the Sentencing Council was asked by the then Lord Chancellor to develop a guideline for so called ‘one punch’ manslaughter following public concern about the sentences in some high profile cases.  The Council considered that it should look at manslaughter offences in the round and undertook to do so when time and resources allowed.  There is an existing guideline for manslaughter by reason of provocation issued by the Council’s predecessor body the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) which is now out of date following legislative changes to the partial defences to murder but there are no existing guidelines for any other forms of manslaughter.

Which offences are covered by the guideline?

There are four draft guidelines as follows:

  • Unlawful act manslaughter
  • Gross negligence manslaughter
  • Manslaughter by reason of loss of control
  • Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility

A fuller explanation of the scope of the guideline and the elements of the offences is given in Annex A below.

What else is happening as part of the consultation process?

This is a 14 week public consultation. During the consultation period, the Council will host a number of consultation meetings to seek views from criminal justice organisations and other groups with an interest in this area as well as sentencers. We will also be conducting interviews with a sample of High Court and Crown Court judges who sentence manslaughter cases to ascertain how they would apply the guideline and to identify whether the guideline presents any practical difficulties for sentencers. Once the consultation exercise is over and the results considered, a final guideline will be published and used by all Crown Courts.

Further information can be found below at annex A and B and a copy of the full consultation document can be found at annex C.

Annex A Overarching issues and the context of the guidelines

Annex B Background to guidelines

Annex C Manslaughter consultation

Following the conclusion of this consultation exercise, a response will be published

We will treat all responses as public documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and we may attribute comments and include a list of all respondents’ names in any final report we publish.  If you wish to submit a confidential response, you should contact us before sending the response.  PLEASE NOTE – We will disregard automatic confidentiality statements generated by an IT system.

In addition, responses may be shared with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.


  • Voluntary organisations
  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Academics
  • UK politicians


  • Criminal justice